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House Of Commons (Services)

Volume 122: debated on Tuesday 10 November 1987

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Before we start the debate, I should tell the House that I have selected all the amendments on the Order Paper. It might be for the convenience of the House if we had a general debate based on the main motion, although it will be perfectly in order for right hon. and hon. Members to draw attention to their amendments in the course of the debate.

In addition, I have accepted a manuscript amendment to amendment (c) from the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Shepherd). At 7 o'clock I will call upon hon. Members to move their amendments formally in the order in which they appear on the Order Paper.

On a point of order. Mr. Speaker. May we know the terms of the manuscript amendment that you have decided to call?

Copies of the manuscript amendment are in the Vote Office. However, it may be for the convenience of the House if I state that the amendment reads:

"line 1, leave out 'research assistants' and insert 'Members' personal staff'".

3.45 pm

I beg to move,

That this House endorses the application of the recommendation contained in paragraph 23 of the Second Report of the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services) in Session 1984–85 (House of Commons Paper No. 195); and invites the Select Committee to consider the wider implications for control over access to the precincts of the House.
The threat of terrorism and the physical limitations of the Palace of Westminster raise issues which require debates in this House from time to time and on which it is appropriate for the House to seek the advice of the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services). Security is of the greatest importance. It does not need me, of all people, to remind the House of what terrorism means. Not only have we been shocked in recent days by a new outrage in Northern Ireland; this House has itself been the victim of terrorism, when the late Airey Neave was murdered in New Palace Yard and when Westminster Hall was damaged by a bomb. Hon. Members must be able to pursue their duties to their constituents and the country in safety, with a reasonable balance between the numbers of staff working in the Palace and the facilities available to them and other hon. Members in these historic buildings.

I shall deal at once with the specific occasion for this debate—the suspension of the pass issued to a research assistant employed by the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn). The free and unescorted access to all parts of the precincts of the House conferred by a photo pass is a valuable privilege. Not only does it allow the holder to use the limited space and facilities of the House; it allows the holder to mingle with hon. Members and to pass unhindered through the building. There is, therefore, a clear threat if a pass should fall into the wrong hands.

Mr. Speaker, you are charged personally with the responsibility on behalf of the House for the part of the Palace of Westminster that we occupy. The safety of hon. Members and of the staff who serve them is given the highest priority by you, by the House authorities and by the police, and in my view it is absolutely right that this should be so. The Serjeant at Arms has day-to-day responsibility for the security of the House, liaising with the police. The Serjeant is answerable to you, Mr. Speaker. Ultimately, of course, as your predecessor Speaker Lenthall said more than 300 years ago in a famous remark often recalled by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), you are the servant of the House. As you exercise your responsibilities to ensure the safety of the House, you are entitled to expect its support.

A Speaker bears a heavy responsibility, and it is right that he should be free to call for advice as he thinks fit. You have confirmed, Mr. Speaker, that like your predecessors you have been advised on security matters by an informal committee including hon. Members drawn from both sides of the House, although I am sure that you are ready to listen to advice from any quarter where it may be offered. The Services Committee, for example, may take, and does take, security considerations into account in any advice it may give you and any recommendations that it may make.

The arrangements made by the House authorities for regulating photo-identity passes have been much discussed in recent months.

Will the Leader of the House accept that there is no dispute between hon. Members about the danger of terrorism? It did not take Sunday's tragedy for us to recognise that and, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, he has had tragic experience of the effects of actions by terrorists and their capabilities. Is it not a question of the Leader of the House trying to ensure that, if there is an adverse report on anyone intended to be employed by an hon. Member, that person should have some redress'? The divide between the Government and the Opposition is that that does not happen now and the Government do not intend to change that position? Therefore Mr. Bennett, who is considered to be unsafe and unworthy to be employed here, has no way of clearing his name. Is not that very important?

Of course, that is a very important issue, and I shall deal with it directly in my speech. However, I should prefer to deal with points in the sequence in which I have organised them in my speech.

As I have said, the arrangements made by the House authorities for regulating photo-identity passes have been much discussed in recent months, but I hope that it will be for the convenience of the House if I draw attention to some of the key points now. First, passes have never been awarded lightly. Even before the introduction of the new photo pass system in 1982, the police carried out checks in cases where this was appropriate on applicants to whom passes had been issued.

Second, although the term "vetting" has tended to be used in discussions of this procedure, it is misleading. The checks carried out by the police are not the same as the vetting procedures applied to civil servants and others concerning matters of national security. They are limited to checks which have a material bearing on the level of risk to the safety of these buildings and the people in them.

Third, I should stress that the checks made in the past took place immediately after the issue of a pass. This was no doubt for the convenience of Members, who understandably preferred a new employee to have a pass without delay.

However, the Services Committee did warn in its report of the problems that could arise from issuing passes before checks had been carried out. In the paragraph referred to in the motion, it recommended that a short delay should be accepted between application for and issue of a photo pass. This delay would permit the police to carry out their check before a pass was issued. The Committee recommended that Members should abide by the results of any adverse, and necessarily confidential, report that might be made on a particular application on behalf of an employee.

The wisdom of that recommendation has been demonstrated by recent events. It is clearly far better for the checks to be carried out and any adverse result communicated privately to the Member concerned before a pass is issued.

Will the Leader of the House tell us exactly what are the criteria used to decide whether someone should or should not be given a pass? For example, there have been a good many young American students here, some of whom have worked for me. Were they checked to find out whether they were CIA agents? The same may apply to other people. What are those criteria?

The decision is made by Mr. Speaker, and the advice on which that decision is based is confidential. It is not for me to say—indeed, I do not know — what that advice is. It is for Mr. Speaker to decide whether he thinks that the applicant is a fit and proper person to have a pass and be allowed to come into the House.

I know nothing of the particular evidence on which the advice given to Mr. Speaker in individual cases is based. Those matters are, as the Committee noted, necessarily confidential. I have complete confidence in the responsibility and professionalism of the police, who are well aware of the significance of their conclusions in matters of such sensitivity.

Normally, I would not dissent from what the right hon. Gentleman said about the professionalism of the police. However, the question that bothers a number of us is how what purport to be confidential police files or security service files from time to time end up, by some alchemy, in the hands of newspaper reporters. Is that done on an authorised basis? Is it done with or without ministerial authority? I would hate to think that it was done with such authority. How does such very sensitive information, which could be extremely damaging to individuals, find its way into newspapers?

Most of the leaks that occur from Government and other sources seem designed to damage rather than to support the Government. Nevertheless, no leaks that I know of have been authorised by Ministers or by anyone else. I regret such leaks as much as anyone when individuals are affected, and, as I stated a moment ago, I believe that such matters should be kept confidential. It is much better for the House and for the individuals involved if that is so.

Fourth, and most important, I must emphasise one point on which I believe there should be no misunderstanding. There is no question of any interference on security grounds with a Member's right to employ whom he chooses as a secretary or research assistant. The hon. Member for Islington, North is free to go on instructing the Fees Office to apply his office costs allowance to pay Mr. Ronan Bennett for his services out of public funds. What is at issue is prudent control over the privilege of free, unescorted access to these buildings. It is necessary to balance the proper desire of Members to have their staff on hand every working hour of every day, if necessary, with the need to keep the level of risk to themselves, their colleagues and others in these buildings to the lowest practicable level.

I turn now to the second limb of the motion, which invites the Services Committee to consider the wider implications. That brings me to the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow), which I am happy to support, In 1985, the Services Committee made a number of recommendations about the regulations governing research assistants with access to the House. These included a limit on the number of one particular category — temporary research assistants whom Members expected to employ for less than four months, to bring these more into balance with the capacity of the facilities of the House.

The capacity of these facilities is, as we all know, limited. The parliamentary building programme is proceeding and the Services Committee's New Building Sub-Committee, in the last Parliament, published a report on the whole programme. Phase 1 of the Bridge street project is still on track to be completed by the end of 1990. This will provide not only a much-needed increase in the accommodation for Members and secretaries but also new Library and refreshment facilities. It is, however, clear that for the foreseeable future we shall have to contend with limited space and facilities for Members and their staff, working in a historic building that is designed for the needs of an earlier age.

The number of research assistants in particular continues to cause concern to right hon. and hon. Members. In the report referred to in the motion, the Committee made clear its own concern at the rate of increase in the number of research assistants. It asked for regular reviews of the situation to be carried out. I recognise the pressure for a further look at this stage, and I look forward to hearing the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Woking, if he should be fortunate enough to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, later in the debate.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that, as I represent the largest constituency in the House, with over 100,000 constituents, my parliamentary allowance is fully used up for secretarial purposes and that there are many hon. Members who believe that the employment of research assistants strikes at the heart of parliamentary democracy? Is it not time to banish political parasites from the House of Commons and to expect hon. Members to do their own research, which lies at the very heart of British democracy in this House?

I cannot go quite so far as my hon. Friend. I have never employed a research assistant, but I am sure that my hon. Friend could make his views known to the Services Committee, which would consider them. together with any other representations that he may wish to make.

It would also be open to the Services Committee, in the course of such a review, to consider the representations that hon. Members may wish to make, whether on security grounds or otherwise, about other categories of people who have access to the House, on whatever terms. I am sure that the Committee will take note of any points that hon. Members raise in the debate, or with the Committee direct.

Is there not another aspect of this matter that the right hon. Gentleman has not touched on concerning so-called research assistants? He knows that there has been a large influx of this type of personality into the House and that some of us who have experienced their services have been rather less than happy with what they have offered and with what they have accomplished. A very serious problem that has not been raised in this regard is, how on earth can there be proper security vetting of the large number of people who are foreigners and whose background it is very difficult for the local police or anyone else to check?

That is a relevant question for the Services Committee when it is considering the recommendations that it will make on the number of research assistants the House should allow to be employed and the steps that should be taken to check on them.

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that for hon. Members, who work very hard, the use of research assistants to dig out facts and information is not only a positive benefit to our constituents but of great assistance to those of us who use their services for their intended purpose?

I would happily agree with the hon. Lady, unless by so doing I was being critical of her hon. Friend, who after his unfortunate experience some little while ago has managed quite well without research assistants.

I come now to the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson). I recognise that it has been drafted in a responsible spirit. None the less, parts of its analysis and prescription are flawed, and I shall therefore ask the House to reject it. First, the arrangements for the security of the House are perfectly clear. Control is vested personally in the Speaker on behalf of the House. Secondly, judgments on security in the House are in the hands not of a branch of the Government but of the Speaker, who seeks advice as necessary from hon. Members, the Serjeant at Arms and the Metropolitain police.

The Opposition amendment calls for consideration by the Privileges and Services Committees. I remind the House that the Government motion provides for wider implications to be considered by the Services Committee, which should meet the point of that part of the Opposition motion. With regard to privilege, the House is sovereign in such matters, and I believe that it will see no basis for referring the issue before us today to the Privileges Committee for its advice.

I note that the amendment calls for the procedures permitting evaluation by the House of information furnished by the Metropolitan police. This point was made by the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds). I should tell the House — this point is where we may differ, so I shall choose my words carefully—that this information is likely to be of a nature that cannot be disclosed. But the main point, I repeat, is that the Speaker rightly has personal responsibility for our security, and it would be wrong for the House to overrule his judgment without calling into question the whole structure, or which I am quite clear is, although not perfect, better than the alternative that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras has in mind.

The point about the disclosure of information is crucial. Hon. Members are entitled to know where the information came from and the basis for it. The House will hear from the Metropolitan police, but not from MI5 or MI6 unless the information is provided to the Privileges Committee or to hon. Members. That point is central to this issue.

In matters of security, the police should give confidential advice and their opinion to Mr. Speaker; he can then make a judgment on that advice. I do not believe that it is possible to reveal details of confidential security advice without damaging the security of the nation in an unacceptable way.

As the right hon. Gentleman said, this is the nub of the issue. It is perfectly possible for false allegations to be made about somebody. In the system that the right hon. Gentleman is advocating there is no way in which a false allegation can be checked, which is intolerable. I sincerely ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider that point. If someone's character can be blackened, the hon. Member concerned can have his character blackened. The allegation may be false, but there is no way in which it could be checked.

I have already said that these matters should be confidential. Therefore, there should not be any need for any public disclosure of an adverse report. Our security system requires confidential advice from the appropriate authorities to be given to the Speaker. It is not possible for such confidential advice to be referred to a Committee of Privy Councillors or any other Committee of the House. The advice must be confidential and given to the appropriate person.

Will the Leader of the House confirm that not one Member of the House, including Mr. Speaker, knows the details of the allegations made against this gentleman?

I will answer the question if the hon. Gentleman will keep quiet. I do not know the details of the allegations that have been made, and I am unaware of anyone else having details of it.

If the hon. Gentleman wants me to answer his question, he must shut up for a minute and I will do my best to answer it. I have no knowledge of this information. It is a matter of security, it is a matter for the Speaker and not for me.

This is an extremely important point because the right hon. Gentleman has said that he does not know any of these details. On a previous occasion Mr. Speaker has told us that he does not know any of these details. That is the curious position that we are in; nobody seems to know any of the details. Is that satisfactory?

We cannot run a security system unless the police and other authorities are trusted to bring forward confidential information on which the responsible person—in this case, Mr. Speaker——

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you confirm that you do not know the details of these allegations?

Order. This is for the House to debate. I have nothing to add to what I have said earlier on this matter.

I am also asking for the amendment of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield to be rejected. The right hon. Gentleman has a remarkable capacity for setting himself up as a defender of fundamental principles. Democracy, human rights — even the pure essence of Socialism — have all been the doubtful beneficiaries of his protection. On one matter I can agree with the right hon. Gentleman. The issue that lies behind today's debate is one of democracy and one that touches on the rights and privileges of the House and its Members.

The right hon. Gentleman takes the view that hon. Members should have unfettered right to confer free access to the precincts of the House on whomsoever they wish. It is my belief that hon. Members on both sides of the House, proud and jealous though we be of the privileges that we enjoy, do accept that those privileges carry with them responsibilities. The House rightly accepts a limitation on its right to free speech where cases are sub judice. For example, you, Mr. Speaker, have warned us against the abuse of that privilege in making allegations against private citizens.

In the difficult area that is the subject of today's debate, the House has placed its trust in you, Mr. Speaker by giving you discretion in this matter, bearing in mind your personal responsibility for security in the precincts of this part of the Palace of Westminster. That trust and discretion was vested in you when you were elected to the Chair by the democratic decision of the House. In accordance with that decision, you acted on advice in the interests of the security of all of us. You have the authority to make that decision.

I ask the House to support the motion and in so doing to express its confidence not only in you, Sir, but in its own democratic procedures.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order to ask you whether the remarks made by the Leader of the House about your personal responsibility were cleared with you before he made them?

No speech in this place is cleared with the Chair. I am here to ensure that speeches are in order. The speech made by the Leader of the House was in order.

4.9 pm

We must address many difficult issues, but the central question that we must try to answer relates to how a society which prides itself on being open and democratic responds to terrorism, the threat of terrorism and the fear of terrorism. Everyone must acknowledge that the existence of terrorism poses a threat to the safety of this building, the people in it, and Members of Parliament, when here and outside.

Two terrorist explosions have shaken these premises in modern times; the bomb in Westminster Hall in 1974 and the device that killed Airey Neave in 1979. Since then, Robert Bradford has been shot dead at his advice surgery, and Anthony Berry has been killed in the Brighton bombing. In the explosion at the Grand hotel, the Leader of the House was seriously injured and his beloved wife was killed. The right hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) was also seriously injured and his wife was cruelly maimed. Other hon. Members were hurt in the devastation at the hotel. Members of the Conservative party who were going about their political business were killed or injured.

Everybody in the House has the utmost sympathy for the victims of violence and their relatives and friends. Many hon. Members of all parties represent constituents and even whole constituencies that have suffered grievously at the hands of terrorists. Those experiences deeply colour the views and responses of many hon. Members — indeed, all hon. Members. That is one reason why everyone in the House recognises the reality of terrorism.

Everyone has a duty to prevent terrorists from securing their objectives, but it is from the desire to deny terrorists their objectives that our democratic dilemma stems. Assassination or arson may be the immediate object of a terrorist attack, but that is not the end of the story. The death or destruction that is directly caused by a terrorist is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end. Terrorists wish to bring about a reaction from those in authority, which reduces the openness of our society, undermines our democratic values and casts doubt on our judicial processes. They also seek a form of prestige — the prestige of being acknowledged to be a dangerous threat to the rest of us.

We must bear terrorists' objectives in mind when deciding how to try to maintain the safety of the House and hon. Members. Whatever steps we take which may add a measure of safety will certainly curtail the arrangements and conventions that we treasure or used to treasure.

If hon. Members consider the changes that have been made in the House—most hon. Members on both sides do not like those changes, but they have been adopted to make terrorists' tasks more difficult—they will see what I mean. I refer to identity cards—never popular in this country—the examination of baggage, visitors being put through metal detectors and explosive sniffers, the examination of vehicles before they enter the House, and the installation of green mesh security fencing, which would look more appropriate around a prison or an Army than around the ancient democratic House of Commons. Such measures may make it harder for terrorists to blow us up, but we can be certain that all of them have been chalked up by the IRA as symbols of how afraid it has made us. To us, such safety measures are a sign of our watchfulness. To the IRA and its friends the same measures are a sign of our fearfulness.

There may be many people whose personalities lead them to take delight in being protected by the sort of measures that I have mentioned, but I am sure that delighting in security measures is not the right response in a democracy. We all know how non-democratic Governments respond. They counter terror with terror. Sometimes, we hear people say, with a touch of envy, "At least regimes like that know how to deal with terrorists. They have no inhibitions and consequently appear to have fewer problems." Because of our democratic instincts and institutions, we have more inhibitions and, consequently, more problems, but it is worth reflecting that, although many dictatorships have been undermined and have fallen as a result of terrorist methods in recent times, no democracy has fallen to terrorists.

The strengths of democracies may be less apparent, but they are deeper and more lasting. We do best when we err on the side of caution in our response to terrorists. Most of us still prefer not to have generally armed police on the streets. Most of us are pleased that our Head of State and her family take some risks so that they can meet the people rather than be driven everywhere in closed bullet-proof limousines. Their behaviour is all the more admirable in view of their own direct bitter experience of the ruthless murder of Lord Mountbatten and some of his family.

Hon. Members may think that this is a little above and beyond a discussion about whether to vet the people whom hon. Members choose to work for them as research assistants and secretaries, but I remind the House that all changes in and erosions of our usual arrangements come in tiny increments. No one proudly announces that we have just decided to dispense with a treasured aspect of our open society. Democratic practices drift into decay. Their departure is seldom signalled by those who make the decisions or even recognised by those on whose behalf the decisions are supposedly made.

Most people accept some vetting of some people as a necessary evil, hut, however necessary vetting may be, I submit that it remains an evil. Vetting is ultimately authoritarian and counter-democratic. I do not seek to join any artificial dispute with Conservative Members. I am being careful and am not exaggerating when I say that. One of the basic concepts of democracy is that those in authority must account to the people for their actions. Vetting stands that concept on its head and requires the people to account to those in authority for their actions.

I must confess that, when recent events made it necessary for me in my new job to find out about the security arrangements for hon. Members and the people who work in the House and how such arrangements have developed, each succeeding piece of information was generally more surprising than its predecessor. Most surprising of all was the fact that the security of the House has never been discussed at any length in modern times, least of all by the House itself. Arrangements have just grown up, and the process, although not secret, has not been open.

We have ended up with arrangements that have received little or no overt authority from the House, put you, Mr. Speaker, in an invidious position, leave security decisions in the hands of a branch of Government, and can undermine the civil liberties of individuals by providing no redress for any person accused of being a threat to the security of the House.

Does the hon. Gentleman concede that effective security depends in large measure on those who might breach it without knowing its arrangements? There is a real difficulty in following the path that the hon. Gentleman wishes us to follow by saying that we should be open about our security. Does he recognise the inherent contradiction in that aspect of his argument?

I have tried to make it clear throughout that there is an inherent dilemma — an inherent contradiction—in any open democracy which tries to deal with terrorism. Opposition Members do not advocate that every measure that is taken in an effort to make this place safer should be disclosed to possible enemies of democracy. We do not suggest that the location and operation of devices such as television cameras should be disclosed. However, other aspects of our security system would benefit from proper evaluation by the House and I shall suggest some of them later.

Does my hon. Friend agree that an additional argument is that a number of the other democratic countries that have faced terrorist threats have structures that are much more open and democratic than ours but those countries have not been trapped into the dangerous degree of secrecy in which this country has become involved at times?

I agree with my hon. Friend, although if we consider the spectrum of democracies and the way in which Parliaments conduct themselves, we find that some are much more fortress-like than our own while others are rather more open.

As the Leader of the House said, we now know that all the staff of the House are vetted before they are appointed and that all research assistants and secretaries are vetted after they are appointed. That practice began in the 1970s and was made more systematic with the aid of a computer in 1982. However, the arrangements were not thought through. Recent events have revealed that no procedure was established to deal with circumstances in which the security services advised that they thought that someone was a security risk. That is rather like having an emergency procedure that works well except when there is an emergency. The House may feel that the time has come for more formal and accountable arrangements.

I come now to the question of Mr. Ronan Bennett who was apponted as a research assistant by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) in August this year. He was duly issued with a photo pass and filled in his declaration of interest form. Then, with great publicity, he was fingered by the security services. The event raises a number of important issues that affect us all.

Twelve years ago, Mr. Bennett was convicted by a single-judge Northern Ireland court of the murder of a Royal Ulster Constabulary inspector. Thirteen months later, he was freed when the Appeal Court quashed the conviction. Two years after that he was arrested in Yorkshire by the special branch and served with an exclusion order under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. After two weeks, the order was quashed. In 1979, Mr. Bennett was charged with conspiracy to rob, and found not guilty at the Old Bailey.

In short, the highest courts which have considered accusations against Mr. Bennett have set him free. He has not been found guilty of any offence. Under the laws of this country he is innocent of the crimes with which he was charged.

People are innocent until found guilty. If found not guilty, they are innocent. That fundamental point is a vital thread in the very fabric of our society and has been a point of pride for the people of this country for hundreds of years. It is a vital part of the rule of law which should not be ignored or set aside by any man or woman or any branch of government, still less challenged in this freely elected democratic House of Commons. It is one of the basic liberties which it is the duty of all of us to uphold.

Is the hon. Gentleman really telling the House that only a person who has been convicted of a crime in the courts in this country or elsewhere can be considered a threat to the security of this place?

Had the hon. Gentleman waited but a moment he would have heard what I have to say about that. In deference to the hon. Gentleman I say that I know that matters are more complicated. The fact that one has been found not guilty cannot prove that one is not a security risk. However, if the only thing that the security services have against Mr. Bennett is the record that I have just related, Opposition Members do not believe that it can or should be used to justify excluding Mr. Bennett. It could be—I say "could" because I do not know; like all hon. Members I have no evidence—that Mr. Bennett is a security risk. He could be using his access to these buildings to put our safety at risk. However, until evidence to that effect is provided Opposition Members are not prepared to support his permanent exclusion on the basis of his known record.

The motion asks us to endorse the application of a recommendation of the Services Committee made in January 1985. I am afraid that I cannot invite my right hon. and hon. Friends to support it. The recommendation was patently not applied in Mr. Ronan Bennett's case. One crucial aspect of the recommendation—included by the Committee in an effort, no doubt, to add an element of equity — was that an hon. Member whose would-be researcher or secretary was the subject of an adverse and confidential report on his or her security status should be told and that the hon. Member should be given the opportunity to decide whether to accept the advice or make representations.

In the case of Mr. Ronan Bennett, my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North was neither informed in confidence nor given an opportunity to consider what to do next. Even more extraordinary is the fact that the News of the World was informed in confidence so that the first that my hon. Friend heard of the security services' objection to Mr. Bennett's having a pass was when he was told by a News of the World reporter, who claimed that the security services' information had been made available to him. That is quite unacceptable.

I must ask you, Mr. Speaker, together with the Lord Chancellor, who shares your responsibilities——

I would like to finish this point. After that, I may give way to the hon. Gentleman or I may not.

I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, together with the Lord Chancellor, who shares your responsibility for the safety of the Palace of Westminster, to undertake an inquiry into the identity of the person who passed the information to the News of the World. If, between you, you do not have the resources to conduct such an inquiry, I must ask the Prime Minister, as head of the security services, to institute an inquiry into the leak, to report promptly and frankly to the House on its findings and to dismiss the person responsible from the public service. The Prime Minister has justified the legal actions relating to the book "Spycatcher" on the ground that its author was bound for ever by his oath of secrecy. The person who leaked the information about Ronan Bennett to the News of the World was bound by the same obligation of perpetual secrecy. Surely that obligation is all-embracing. It cannot be dispensed with just because it suits someone to dispense with it.

The leak to the News of the World raises a number of questions, not least whether some of those involved were more concerned with lining their pockets or getting bad publicity for a particular hon. Member belonging to a particular party than with the security and safety of the House.

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that there is a curious contradiction in his argument? At one moment he expects everyone automatically to agree that evidence offered in court should not be disclosed, while at the next he says that if an individual is refused access to the House on the basis of confidential information that information should be disclosed. Surely information supplied to Mr. Speaker by the security services, the police or any other agency is supplied on the basis that it will remain confidential. Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that if such information is disclosed it is likely to put lives at risk?

It is a general requirement in our courts—particularly the criminal courts—that evidence should be pleaded in public, and most people think that that is a good thing. We recognise that it is not necessarily of benefit for information from the security services to be widely spread, despite the efforts of the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason) from time to time.

I believe that if the House chose—and it would be the House which chose—the members of a committee to have access to confidential information of that nature, we should have sufficient faith in the people we chose to be sure that the information would remain confidential. That is what I would hope.

There are other objections to the Government's motion——

There is another aspect of this matter that my hon. Friend has not touched upon. In view of Mr. Bennett's known record, is it not less surprising that the security services fingered him than that a Member of Parliament appointed him?

I do not wish to bandy curiosities with my hon. Friend, but there is a further curiosity : that is to suggest that an organisation, even one as inept as the IRA, would select Mr. Ronan Bennett as a secret agent.

There are other objections to the Government's motion that I hope are made clear in our amendment. First, we believe that responsibility for the safety of the House and those who work in it must be left to the informed decisions of the House itself. A freely elected Parliament is clearly not properly discharging its duties if it becomes dependent on the unsubstantiated assertions of any branch of the Executive. When those assertions affect the privileges of the House and the rights of individual hon. Members it is imperative that they should be subjected to the informed scrutiny of the House. That is not a point of parliamentary self-importance but literally a point of parliamentary rights. The sovereignty of Parliament is basic to the rule of law and we must have total sovereignty over our own affairs.

It is also our view that the physical safety of hon. Members and others working in the Palace of Westminster should be the only consideration in the scrutiny or vetting of any person concerned with this place. Assessments of the political suitability of someone seeking access to this place must be left to the electorate alone.

Is it not a fact that one of the problems is that many of us do not trust the judgment of the special branch? For example, there was the case of Madeleine Haig in Sutton Coldfield who simply wrote a letter to a local newspaper saying that she supported nuclear disarmament. She was checked out by the special branch. Her Member of Parliament, a member of the Cabinet, was lied to about that check. When we know that the special branch is making misjudgments of that sort we need a system to check the basis of its vetting.

I agree with my hon. Friend. However, the fact that we must require information from the security services to maintain our position as a free Parliament would apply even to those hon. Members who have absolute faith in the accuracy of anything that the security services do. It is a matter not of practicality but of principle.

I believe that the Leader of the House accepts that there can be no suggestion that hon. Members cannot employ who they wish. That must be a question for individual hon. Members. I agree that we must all recognise the fact of life that the access that researchers or secretaries have to the House means that their action could have an impact on the safety of others working there. Therefore, I believe that rules governing the appointment of people with access to this place are a proper matter for the whole House and cannot be left to each individual hon. Member. We have a duty one to another.

If any vetting procedure is operated——

Is not it clear that if somebody intends to come into the House deliberately to plant a bomb and becomes a research assistant or a member of the staff he would never say who or what he was? It would be like Willy Brandt's secretary, who was an agent for East Germany. Herr Brandt did not know that he was an agent and neither did anybody else, except the individual concerned. On that basis, if people are serious about coming here they will do it without us, the security services or anyone else. Therefore, the people who come as research assistants and in other jobs and tell us who they are have a right to be employed, as long as we are satisfied.

I agree with my hon. Friend because he said "as long as we are satisfied." I take the view that it is a matter of the House laying down rules as a freely elected assembly and that those rules must apply to any aspect of the conduct of the House that could have an adverse effect on other hon. Members. Whatever doubts people may have about vetting processes, which as we all know are notoriously slipshod and unsatisfactory——

I am trying to follow the hon. Gentleman's line of argument. From what he said prevously, I assume that he does not intend that issues involving a dispute about the security rating of an individual should be debated by the House in the open. However, would he tell us what body of the House should have the delegated responsibility for considering such matters?

The hon. Gentleman will find that my logic appears to tally with his. I am coming to that point.

If a vetting procedure is operated and the Metropolitan police make an adverse report on someone that an hon. Member wishes to appoint, they should make a confidential report to the hon. Member concerned. If, on the basis of that report, the hon. Member decides not to proceed with the appointment, that should be the end of the matter. However, if the hon. Member is not satisfied, he or she should be able to appeal to you, Mr. Speaker, and you should determine that appeal after seeking the advice of a specially established Committee of the House, to which the police would have to produce evidence to justify their adverse report. We recognise that that might pose problems for the police, but it is the least that could be expected of a Committee of the House advising on the rights of an individual hon. Member and who should have access to this place.

There are alternatives to vetting. For example, the European Assembly requires everyone, including Members and staff, to pass through metal detectors and baggage examination at the entrance every time they enter the building. That approach to security may be more or less acceptable to hon. Members, but it would be valuable for the Services Committee to look into the advantages and disadvantages of various alternative approaches so that the House could make an informed judgment.

The major part of our concern for safety must be for those working in the House, bearing in mind that the 1974 bomb exploded in a staff canteen and that such threats as letter bombs would be likely to do more harm to staff than to hon. Members. At present, all those working in the House, including the people in the Press Gallery, are vetted. I believe that whatever security measures are taken should he discussed with the representatives of the people concerned, including the representatives of the people in the Press Gallery. If any vetting procedure is operated for all those working here, there should be appropriate machinery to enable persons affected to appeal. In no case can it be acceptable for people to be rejected anonymously by the security services. We have to look to the safety and civil liberty of all the people working here, just as in all our deliberations we have to look to the safety and civil liberty of our people.

In short, we do not think that endorsing the January 1985 recommendation of the Services Committee is an adequate response. After all, the Committee's recommendation formed but one paragraph out of 28 in a report on the overcrowding problems caused by an upsurge in the number of researchers. The report was never discussed by the House. Given everyone's doubts—I mean everyone's — about retrospective legislation, it would be unfortunate to give retrospective approval to a matter affecting the rights and privileges of the House and individual hon. Members.

However, we wish most earnestly to see this matter given, for the first time, the thorough and informed scrutiny that it deserves. That is why we recommend that the matters of principle should be referred to the Privileges Committee and the practicalities to the Services Committee to ensure the maximum physical safety for hon. Members and others who work in the Palace of Westminster, compatible with the need to preserve the rights of hon. Members, and free access to this free House of Commons.

The safety of this place and of the people in it is a matter for us and for us alone. It must not be a matter for the Executive arm. still less for the security services. Our proposal would bring the matter back within the authority of the House and maintain the rights and privileges that are necessary to a free Parliament.

However, as the Leader of the House said, with those rights go duties. We have a duty to all the people who work for the House or for individual hon. Members. We have a duty to ourselves and to one another. We have a duty to secure the safety of the House because it is a symbol of our democracy, and its injury would cause rejoicing among the enemies of democracy. We have a duty to frustrate the intentions of terrorists. We can help to discharge that duty by ensuring that the House is not a soft target. However, we can best discharge that duty if, at the same time, we have the courage and confidence to accept some risks in maintaining the open institution and practices of our democracy, for whose preservation thousands of our people, of all political persuasions, have laid down their lives in wars against the enemies of democracy. We must stick up for democracy; we must make ourselves safe. But we must also maintain our ancient liberties.

4.44 pm

This is an important debate, but it is not about the freedom of Members of Parliament to speak, to vote, to enter this Chamber, or to conduct their activities in Committees. The debate is about only one thing—the control of the issue of passes to persons who are employed not by the House but by individual hon. Members who wish that employee not only to be employed by them, but to have uncontrolled access to the precincts of the House.

If the proposition were that the Government or the security forces should have the right to decide who should or should not be issued with such a pass, I should be among those hon. Members who would say no to it. The House of Commons must trust somebody, but the question is whom it should trust. There was a time when the office of Speaker was used as a depository for unsuccessful Ministers. It was regarded as being in the gift of the Government as a reward for political service in the Cabinet. I am happy to say that Back Benchers, not Front Benchers, have ensured that that is no longer the case. Back-Bench Members have reasserted—not before time—the right—they always had the power—to choose as their Speaker the Member in whom they reposed their trust, rather than to acquiesce in the desire of the Government of the day to reward one of their faithful servants with the office of Speaker. It is entirely within the power of the House to preserve that reality, and the House will neglect it or allow it to fall into desuetude at its peril.

As we are conducting this debate in the circumstances that I have described, and as all hon. Members agree that the matter is important, my answer to the question, "In whom should the House repose its trust?" is, "In its elected Speaker." He carries that heavy responsibility and it is one from which he can never escape while he is Speaker of this House. Indeed, there are other responsibilities from which he can never escape while Speaker. The consequences of his decisions will continue after he has ceased to be Speaker of this House.

As we have been reminded, it took Parliament and the House of Commons many generations to establish certain important phenomena. The independence of the office of Speaker was historically late in coming. That independence did not always exist, although, as I have pointed out, the recovery of the right of Back-Bench Members to choose whomsoever they believe fit to occupy that office has been recent.

In exercising that onerous duty, I have no doubt that Mr. Speaker would come to the House if questions that he wished to ask were not answered. It is inconceivable that he would not do so.

Yes, but I must finish this line of argument before doing so.

If Mr. Speaker is to get at the truth in matters of security, it is necessary that the source of his information that satisfies him in that unique performance of a duty to the House, cannot be publicly revealed or questioned. Similarly, there have been many decisions by previous Speakers over the years that the House has come to accept as decisions that must not be challenged. The House can have redress by putting down a motion of censure if it disagrees with his decisions or actions. However, there are certain decisions and responsibilities, including the processes that lead up to the decisions, that are not open to question by the House while the House reposes its confidence in him as Speaker.

I have been following the hon. Gentleman's argument, but surely that places Mr. Speaker in a difficult and invidious position? If Mr. Speaker is given the total authority to decide, on the basis of information that was presumably given by the security authorities, there would he no right of appeal. It is most unlikely that Mr. Speaker would be in a position, or would wish to he in a position, to speak to the House on that issue. Therefore, as the hon. Gentleman has just said, the only course would be the unfortunate one of a censure motion on Mr. Speaker. What is wrong with having an appeals machinery along the lines that were set out in the amendment that was tabled in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson)?

I agree that Mr. Speaker is in a difficult position in this matter. But he is in a difficult position on many matters that fall to him for decision. The fact that a question is difficult does not mean that it will go away. The fact that it is so crucially difficult is the nub of this debate. Experience of the past 25 years has not satisfied hon. Members on both sides of the House that Committees are leak-proof. We all know that they are not. However hard we try to preserve confidentiality in Select Committees on certain issues, we know that it is an imperfect system. In most matters it is not a question of life and death if there is a leak, although there may be ill consequences. In security matters, however, it can be exactly that. That is why confidentiality becomes more important when sources of information are revealed, and the source of the information is at risk of assassination.

The hon. Gentleman is missing the point, which is not that it is a difficult decision for Mr. Speaker —we all accept that—but that the hon. Gentleman and some of his hon. Friends are asking Mr. Speaker to take responsibility with what is at best inadequate knowledge.

I have no reason to suppose that the basis upon which Mr. Speaker would take such a decision is any more inadequate than if the responsibility were shared by three other hon. Members. There is nothing inherent in numbers that produces accuracy. At the end of the day, where should the responsibility reside? It resides either with Mr. Speaker, or with a Committee. Since the matter was first raised I have given it considerable thought and my opinion is that the best, though not the perfect, solution would be to entrust this decision, so that it is taken as impartially as possible though not infallibly, to the person to whom, above all others, we entrust so many crucial decisions. That is Mr. Speaker.

4.53 pm

The House is aware that we are having this debate on the morrow of the horrific killings at Enniskillen. The debate was opened by the Leader of the House who has suffered personally, as his wife was the victim of an earlier murder, and it takes place in a Chamber which has lost two hon. Members and has been the subject of attack in the past. We must also consider that we are responsible for the safety of all people who work here all the time, whether or not they are hon. Members. Those facts are bound to be in the forefront of today's debate.

I am all the more grateful to you. Mr. Speaker, for selecting amendment (a), in line 1, leave out from 'House' to end and add:
'rejects the recommendation in the Second Report of the Services Committee, Session 1984–85, on security, on the grounds that it would infringe the principles of Parliamentary democracy, under which electors must have the right to elect the Members whom they choose, and honourable Members must have an equal right to employ whoever they wish to assist them with their Parliamentary duties; knows of no powers that this House has, has ever had, or could legitimately, take or assume, to determine who may work for an honourable Member in the Palace of Westminster; believes that the withdrawal of the pass issued to Mr. Ronan Bennett has publicly, and unjustly, identified him as a potential threat to national security, without any evidence having been disclosed, or any hearing or trial, whereby he, personally, has suffered a serious injury; warns that, if the security services are permitted to vet any person, including staff, lobby correspondents, or honourable Members, and effectively veto them, fundamental civil and democratic liberties will be eroded to the point where those affected would become licensed by the Crown, its ministers and servants, thus reversing centuries of struggle by the people of the United Kingdom through this House to gain control of the Executive, and hold it accountable for its actions; and therefore demands the immediate restoration of the pass to Mr. Ronan Bennett, and the complete discontinuation of the present, and wholly unauthorised, practice of vetting those who work in, and for, this House and its Members'.
It is necessary now, more than at almost any other time, to reaffirm the freedom of individuals and the rights of hon. Members and those who elect them.

A great deal has been said about confidentiality and the need to preserve it. Anyone who has read Mr. Peter Wright's book will know that:
"Facsimile copies of some files were made and distributed to overseas newspapers, and the matter was to be raised in Parliament to maximum effect."
When it comes to security, the greatest leakers in the country are the security services. There have been journalists who have made a living by being the recipients of the views of dissatisfied security officers, especially when those officers have not got their way with Ministers.

How did the House imagine the first account of Mr. Ronan Bennett appeared in two newspapers owned by the same proprietor on 6 September? They were put there by somebody in the security services who wished to have the effect that he or she must now manifestly feel has been satisfied by subsequent events.

You, Mr. Speaker, exercising the responsibilities that have been referred to by the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop), withdrew the pass from Mr. Bennett and acted in a way that you no doubt regarded as right. If I understand your answer, Mr. Speaker, on 5 November you said:
"That evidence was not seen." — [Official Report, 5 November 1987; Vol. 121, c. 1080.]
I take that to mean that you did not think it right or proper, or did not choose, to see the full report from the security services. If I am wrong I hope that I will be corrected. I presume that you were advised, Mr. Speaker, of its import by your principal adviser, the Serjeant at Arms, who is not an elected person or a servant of the House as a whole in that respect.

My fear and the reason why my hon. Friends and I tabled this amendment is that your decision, Mr. Speaker, identified Mr. Bennett as a security threat without giving him, or my hon. Friend, the opportunity of defence or providing any independent assessment of evidence in accordance with the most basic principles of British law, upon which my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) touched so convincingly.

Mr. Bennett is now completely unemployable and, unless we decide otherwise today, the House will share the responsibility for the decision to make him unemployable, also without seeing any of the evidence whatever—not one Member of the House has seen any of the evidence. I believe that our amendment for the restoration of Mr. Bennett's pass would be fully justified by any objective test of justice and fair play for that, if not for any other reason.

The issue raised by this case goes far beyond the position of Mr. Bennett. It touches upon the right of electors to choose whom they want to represent them in the House and upon the right of Members, once elected, to select those they wish to work for them in this place. It is not for the majority in this House to determine what minorities may do, because when the tables are turned I can visualise circumstances when Conservative Members might be the first to resist the application of the principle that they now so loquaciously uphold.

I shall give way when I have finished this point.

It so happens that my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) employed Mr. Bennett in part to assist him in establishing the innocence of the Guildford four. The question of the Birmingham six is now, at the instance of the Home Secretary, before the Court of Appeal. Those people were convicted on the morrow of the Birmingham bombing, when the attachment to impartiality and the application of justice, as the court may hear, may be the hardest to sustain.

I wish to finish before I give way.

The question that I must ask myself—I am bound to—is would the security services, which no doubt played some part in bringing about the prosecution and conviction of the Guildford four, be pleased that the hon. Member for Islington, North had a person assisting him who was engaged in trying to show that they were wrong? There are obvious motives in this as well.

I am cautious of interrupting the right hon. Gentleman, but can he tell the House whether there are any circumstances in which he feels people should not be allowed to be employed in the House by a Member of Parliament? Is he saying that there should be a carte blanche? Nobody is saying that a Member of Parliament cannot employ an individual, but what is being said is that a Member of Parliament must have recourse to information, information that came before Mr. Speaker in this case, as to whether that individual can work on the premises.

The principle is straightforward. If an individual seeks a Civil Service appointment the Government, as the employer, can apply what restrictions or vetting they wish. If a Member of Parliament decides to employ somebody, he or she is entitled to employ whomsoever they wish, so long as that person is not disqualified by law or any conviction.

I shall not give way again.

I know of no law in Britain, no Standing Order of this House and no precedent in parliamentary history that empowers the House or the Speaker to lay down who is to work for an elected Member. There is no authority whatever for the decision that led to the withdrawal of Mr. Bennett's pass. Indeed, I might add that the informal advisory committee set up more than 10 years ago—I remember it very well because I was a member of the Cabinet at the time—to examine and report upon the Starritt report on the physical safety and security of the Palace and to which you referred, Mr. Speaker, has never been formally approved or its members elected by the House. Therefore, it carries no authority, and it is not even clear whether it played a role in the Bennett case. Even the recommendation in paragraph 23 of the Services Committee report 1984–85, which we are invited to endorse, has never been accepted by the House, nor does it have any bearing on this case, because even if the motion is carried the ban on Mr. Bennett was not applied according to the procedure that the Services Committee recommended.

In this case the basis of the ban came from the Crown and its servants in the form of the security services. The information that those services receive is not normally available even to the Home Secretary. If the House looks at the Maxwell-Fyfe directive of 24 September 1952 it is laid down clearly that the Home Secretary does not expect to be informed. Therefore, we are not dealing with the Executive in its accountable form through Ministers, but in its wholly unaccountable form through the security services.

I will not give way at the moment.

There is not even the most tenuous link of accountability to this House, through a Minister, for the security services and what they do. Questions about the security services are not allowed to be tabled or are disallowed by you, Mr. Speaker.

Will the right hon. Gentleman find time to address himself to what I consider to be the impeccable logic of my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) in respect of the ultimate authority and responsibility of Mr. Speaker to take what advice he can and from where? Surely that must be right. The House of Commons must, in the end, give authority and respect to some individual or body. I believe that my hon. Friend has put forward arguments to which the right hon. Gentleman has not addressed his mind.

As a matter of fact, I am glad that the hon. Member for Tiverton raised the 17th century question because Mr. Speaker Lenthall, whom I have often quoted. in this House, said:

"May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see, nor tongue to speak in this place, but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here."
The House has never directed the Speaker to take away the right of a Member to choose his servant, so the Lenthall case works my way. What has happened now is that the Crown, in the person of the security services, has come, not to arrest the five Members, but to arrest one research assistant. I believe that Mr. Speaker did not respond in a manner that I believe that the House might, on reflection, think would have been best.

The House does not know for certain what is the definition of a security risk. The only one I know is contained in Lords Hansard of 26 February 1975 in column 947 when Lord Harris of Greenwich gave a description that covered almost anything. Essentially the definition of what is a security risk is political, for everything else is criminal. If a person is guilty of an act contrary to the laws of the state he can be brought to the courts by prosecution. A security risk is someone who cannot be brought to the courts, but who is politically unacceptable.

Anyone who has had any experience of the security services as a Minister knows full well that the security services take a highly, almost totally, political view of what is a security risk. For example, when I was Minister of Technology I acquired the vetting responsibility of the old Ministry of Supply over officials in Whitehall and I saw some of the files. Later, as Secretary of State for Industry, I was told that Jack Jones, who was then the general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, was considered a security risk. I was told that Hugh Scanlon, who was then president of the AEU, was considered a security risk. We know from Cathy Massiter that people who favoured a non-nuclear defence policy are considered a security risk. The Government are still fighting to prevent such people, even when hon. Members, from being able to question Ministry of Defence officials. The most ludicrous example is that of Mr. Peter Wright, who said that when he was with the service the Prime Minister of the day was considered a Soviet agent. Is any hon. Member going to tell me that that was not a political decision? Trade unionists, activists in the Labour movement and those who campaign for peace are considered security risks in the minds of those who work in the security services. That is the background against which we have to look for understanding.

If we endorse the vetting of research assistants, we are endorsing the vetting of Members. It is an absolute, manifest, principle of vetting that, to get an adequate response on vetting, one has to contact or observe the relations between the person one is watching and that person's closest associates. Who could be closer to a research assistant than the Member who has employed him? If the House does not challenge that, we shall be authorising the interception of Members' letters and telephone calls, making elected Members' staff and lobby correspondents, who, through their union as well as individually, have an interest, into persons "licensed" by the Crown before they can perform their duties. That argument was developed by my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras.

The use of the term "security" can be extended to cover almost anything about the Government of the day, whichever party is in government. This works both ways and, although it may seem strange, I am defending the rights of future minorities in the House against future majorities—forming a Government who might wish to deny matters to be discussed.

For example, it was on security grounds that the Zircon film was banned and the BBC raided. It was essentially on security grounds that Peter Wright's book, in which he alleged illegalities on a massive scale, was suppressed by the High Court. It was by the use of the sub judice rule that the House was prevented from even discussing it. Security prevents Members from asking questions about GCHQ or the security services. Even though some of the books being asked about were written by Members of the House, they cannot be pursued in Parliament. Members of Parliament are in danger of being licensed only to discuss what Ministers want them to discuss. We accept that principle at our peril.

The right hon. Gentleman is saying : "Love me, love my friend". He said that anybody we choose must automatically be a good person, otherwise we are being vetted. Is the right hon. Gentleman certain that he has never chosen an unreliable, disloyal or untrustworthy friend? Why is it so bad to have that person put to a reasonable test to see whether the Member's judgment is right? Members are not always infallible, as the right hon. Gentleman is suggesting.

The hon. Gentleman has to be careful before the House claims for itself the right to assess the conduct of its Members, including the conduct of a Member in selecting an assistant. No hon. Member got here by the consent of the House but by the consent of the constituents. I am probably one of the few hon. Members who has been expelled by a vote of the House on, of all things, the absurd ground of peerage. I have experienced what it is like when a majority is used to expel a Member in defence of some ludicrous medieval principle. Since that day I have always defended the rights of Members of any party to come here, with the authority of their electors, and to exercise their power in the interests of their constituents and in the pursuit of their beliefs.

If we do not challenge this rule, we shall be reversing centuries of struggle—some of it, as in the 17th century, violent and bloody—by which the people fought to elect Members of Parliament explicitly to control the Crown and its Ministers in the name of democracy and not to be licensed by the Crown to tell them what they can do, and whom they can employ.

Nothing that I say could be taken as questioning the need for the most stringent physical security of the building in which we work or the necessity to have those convicted of an offence to be dealt with by the courts. My right hon. Friends have tabled an amendment that seeks to refer the matter to the Committee of Privileges, on which I have the honour to serve. I will certainly support that proposal, as I did earlier this year when I moved an amendment concerning the Zircon case designed to have that effect.

But even if the House, in its wisdom, decides to follow that course, it in no way detracts from the importance of making a clear declaration, before the Committee of Privileges meets, on the rights of one individual not to be named, without a hearing, in a way that would damage him, and on the importance of maintaining the basic principles upon which parliamentary democracy is founded, which is that Ministers are responsible to hon. Members and that hon. Members are not responsible to Ministers. Break that rule and we shall throw away centuries of struggle.

In the light of what has happened, I recognise that there is a great deal of fear and anger in the House. But those emotions are not a good guide as to how we should react, least of all in the defence of personal freedom, and our ancient democratic rights which offer the surest long-term safeguards against violence. I commend my amendment, in that spirit, to the House.

5.11 pm

The right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) spoke with characteristic zeal. He elevated every difficulty—heaven knows, there are enough difficulties — into matters of high principle. That is understandable in that the Chamber has witnessed more violence than enough, not just recently, but nearly half a century ago, when part of the Chamber was devastated during a bombing raid that was designed to underline the challenge that will always be made to this cradle of authority by those who seek to set that authority aside. The debate has generated feelings of passion. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we ought to be debating this not in anger but rather in more measured terms.

I shall put three points to the House, and I apologise at once if they fall below the level of drama in the preceding speech. They are not intended to be points of great principle but points of great practicality, pending some other occasion when perhaps the matter can be further considered. There is a strong argument for not involving too much innovation in such matters. The first point is that for quite a while we have had an informal committee. That informal committee has done a thoroughly good job. It has been relatively quiet, occasionally almost inaudible, certainly in the last Parliament, but none the less I think the House is indebted to those who have served on that informal committee for all the work they have done to try to improve the workaday security arrangements of the House. The committee considered many pedestrian matters that involved hon. Members and their working practices and in no way involved great issues of principle, let alone being taken for some further consideration or resolution elsewhere.

The second point is that, in the very nature of how we conduct our affairs, that workaday informal committee had a whole range of problems to address. Recently it has invoked a major challenge to the practices in the recommendation that was made before the withdrawal of Mr. Bennett's pass. On the whole, the House has responded with remarkable maturity to that challenge.

First, the authority was clearly vested in Mr. Speaker. That has not terminated the matter. There was wider concern, and the House, using its procedures, is holding today's debate. It is not in any sense a censure of Mr. Speaker—it is much more akin to the Zircon affair, in which a holding position was taken, which was subsequently confirmed by the House. The House has the capacity to resolve these matters on the Floor when they involve a matter of that magnitude.

The right hon. Gentleman inadvertently said that the House had confirmed the Speaker's decision. The House has never debated the report of the Select Committee on Privileges.

The House has considered the decision about Mr. Bennett. Today represents a judgment on that decision, and if anyone pretends otherwise, he is the victim of such casuistry as to undermine the entire debate. We enjoy the happy circumstances of operating from the almost subterranean activities of the informal committee, and when it demands the attention of the House, we can debate the matter here. Let us understand and grasp that simple, great virtue of our position. Let us think hard before trying to rationalise or set up any new committees that will try to operate in conditional circumstances all the paraphernalia of some sort of sub-structure to handle the intimate affairs of security.

My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) has done the House a great service by emphasising how, at the end of the day, so many of these matters turn on the authority of Mr. Speaker. I believe that that authority can be sustained by this Parliament in relevant and appropriate circumstances. We do the cause of security no great advantage by over-reacting and producing a host of new committees and considerations. Opposition Members pointed out how important it was not to over-react in the face of terrorist attack or threat. So saying, I commend the motion of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to my hon. Friends and the whole House.

5.17 pm

All hon. Members who have taken part in the debate have committed themselves to the concept of stringent security around our activities in this place. When I bring parties into the House they do not object to going through the security checks at the entrances. They regard that as common sense in the sort of world in which we live, and they are right to do so.

I also strongly agree with the right hon. Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen) about the informal committee that advises you, Mr. Speaker, on security matters. I was slightly surprised to hear it referred to in some of the earlier exchanges as some sort of secret committee. Anyone who recalls the enthusiasm with which Mr. Walter Harrison used to display some of the new techniques and equipment that had improved the security of the House would find it hard to believe that the committee was a secret operation—good job though it certainly did.

There may be a case for regularising the arrangements of that committee and, perhaps, making it a little more formal to ensure that the House is aware of its activities and that it is broadly representative of the House. Its activities and procedures will thereby be sanctified by the endorsement of the House rather more than now. Perhaps the Services Committee could examine that suggestion in the light of our debate.

We should have debated security issues rather more than we have in the recent past. It is right to regularise the present procedures affecting staff; all staff should be treated in exactly the same way. The procedures set out in paragraph 23 of the report are sensible and we should support them.

All of us recognise that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) made a clear and sincere attempt to bridge the differences between us on a difficult issue. He recognised the need for stringent security, but wanted, too, to protect the rights of individuals who may come up against the security system. I was relieved to hear that he does not want the facts of any individual case to be laid before the House, because his amendment speaks of evaluation by the House of information furnished by the Metropolitan police. He seems to be imagining a committee of senior Members, but that immediately brings us up against the sort of problems that have already been mentioned. It is very difficult for the security forces to reveal sources of information without endangering those sources.

Any committee worth its salt will not accept just like that information laid before it. If such a committee is charged by the House with investigating these cases, it will be duty-bound to demand to see all the evidence and, perhaps, the witnesses, and to indulge in a full-scale inquiry. That raises the question whether people should be legally represented in such an inquiry. Even if it were sensible to go down that road, I doubt whether it would be feasible. In any case, knowing this House as well as you do, Mr. Speaker, you might agree that any committee of the great and the good that examined these matters behind closed doors and produced a report might well not satisfy hon. Members if its conclusions endorsed the recommendations of the security services.

We must face the fact that any vetting system will be unfair to the individual. One must make a balanced judment between the rights and needs of the individual and the security of the majority. As the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras rightly reminded us, one of the problems of dealing with terrorism is that it forces us steadily to change our procedures in ways that we do not much like. I do not care for that process, but it is a fact of life and we must accept it. The hon. Gentleman said that we should be prepared to take risks in this place to protect the rights of the individual. I take exactly the opposite position — I would rather risk an injustice to one individual to protect the rights and security of the House. I argue for erring on the side of safety and security, and that is why I shall vote for the motion.

5.22 pm

This has been an interesting and valuable debate. I rise, first, to support you, Mr. Speaker, in the decisions that you have taken that have brought us to the debate today. Secondly, I wish to support the speech and motion of of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. As regards the amendent in the names of my hon. Friends and myself, I want to anticipate by saying that the manuscript amendment that my hon. Friend the Member for Hereford (Mr. Shepherd) is seeking to move to it is entirely acceptable to me, and I hope that the House will accept it, too.

I must be careful in my choice of words. The House has been helped — wittingly or unwittingly — by the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), who has brought matters to the point at which we are considering them today. I agree with those hon. Members who said that the horrible tragedy of the weekend should not make any difference to our decision. The issues before us were pretty clear before, and we do not need to be so unhappily reminded of the security threat that faces so many people in all parts of the United Kingdom. However, we need to take our own security seriously, and the hon. Member for Islington, North has given us the chance to do that.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will speak in due course, because there are one or two questions that he has yet to answer. One of them was expressed vividly by his hon. Friend the Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds), who drew attention to what he described as a curiosity. It strikes me as one, too. I wonder why it should have been necessary for the hon. Member for Islington, North to apply for a pass for his research assistant, Mr. Bennett, in the middle of the recess so that he could come into the precincts of the building. Was he aware of the proceedings and recommendations of the Select Committee, and did he give them any thought?

I have to say to the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) that I do not rate it as one of our treasured conventions that any hon. Member should not merely have the right to employ whom he wishes — which we are not challenging — but should have the right to demand for that person, whoever he may be, unfettered access unescorted to the entire Palace of Westminster. He says that he knows of no votes of the House which forbid it; I certainly know of no votes of the House which sanction it. So let us agree that that is uncharted territory unexplored even by Mr. Speaker Lenthall.

When the right hon. Member for Chesterfield describes Mr. Bennett as being completely unemployable, I think he may be exaggerating. I detected at that moment the faint harmony of that haunting music, "The entry of the men in white coats". We are not talking about making Mr. Bennett completely unemployable. All we are saying is that if the hon. Member for Islington, North wants to employ him, he cannot by decision of this House do so on terms which permit him to roam about this building on his own. It is possible to have two views on this matter, if I may put it that way. I do not normally pray Mr. Edward Pearce in aid of my argument, but some hon. Members may have seen an article which he wrote in The Sunday Times on 26 October in which he said — and this is really the question for the hon. Member to answer:
"But who with a particle of sense invites a man once charged with murder to be his research assistant, knowing that he is certain to remain a suspicious person to any competent security man?"
It may be helpful to the House if the hon. Member addresses himself to that point in due course. But it is essential that the House should preserve the distinction between employability, which is not affected, and access, which can be.

I was glad that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) conceded the principle of possible exclusion and that he granted the House that there may be people whom hon. Members do not want to have roaming freely about the building. These people may come from many different directions. The hon. Gentleman and I might not necessarily always agree on who they are, but we would agree that such people may exist and that we should all be protected against them; and so should everybody who works in the building. There is no difference between us on that. The difference rests on how the sanction is best to be exercised.

The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras wants to have a committee of great and good. I share the reservations of the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright) on that. It may prove difficult for the Accommodation and Administration Sub-Committee to carry the burden which the Services Committee recommendation indicates that it would be willing to accept that
"A Member dissatisfied with an explanation of a refusal to issue a pass is at liberty to make representations to the Accommodation & Administration Sub-Committee whose decision on the issue of a pass we would normally regard as final."
I am much inclined towards the argument put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop). There may be abnormal cases where you, Mr. Speaker, will inevitably have to consider a difficulty which the Accommodation and Administration Sub-Committee cannot resolve. But it may equally be that in the ordinary case, if I may use that word, that Committee will have no difficulty in coming to a conclusion that a certain person should either be admitted or barred.

What is absolutely essential is that we should recognise the sheer dimensions of the problem with which hon. Members themselves have confronted our security force. I hope that the House will find helpful information which I was able to discover this morning from the Pass Office computer on the current number of passes on issue for Members' secretaries and research assistants. They total 1,247, of which, by my rough calculation, two thirds are for secretaries. I did the sum earlier; there are 859 secretaries and 388 research assistants. What may also help the House is the knowledge that of that grand total 103 are American nationals and 26 are other foreign nationals of 11 different nationalities. Anyone who is curious to know what those nationalities are can get the information, but this shows the size of the task which we invite our defenders to perform so that we should not be subject to risks of which we are not aware and against which we want to be protected.

In all this I must agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton: the ultimate responsibility is yours, Mr. Speaker. As you will remember, at the beginning of this Parliament I proposed you for the Chair that you now occupy. So I am absolutely content that you should have that responsibility, but I also recognise, and I think every hon. Member recognises, that you cannot perform your task unless we give you every possible help in exercising it

5.30 pm

Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), I recognise the atmosphere in which the debate is taking place, but I think that you will agree, Mr. Speaker, that it is very important that the debate is actually about the issue before us.

I believe that the House is in serious danger of taking a decision which will take powers away from itself and hand them over to a secret, unelected and unaccountable security service which will ultimately have power over hon. Members. That should worry every hon. Member, whether they agree with my views on the rest of the world or with any Conservative Member. It will have an effect on every one of us if we vote through the proposal of the Services Committee which, in effect, would take powers away from the House. Once the House has accepted the principle of removing powers from itself, the precedent has been made, the process will continue and other powers will be removed at other times.

The question also extends beyond merely the research assistants of individuals hon. Members. It also extends to staff in the House, to members of the press in the House and to the principle of secret vetting and secret evidence being made available against an individual but not being made available to that individual or to his employer or his defender.

I am delighted to defend Mr. Ronan Bennett. The only problem I have is that I know not with what he has been charged. Nobody has told me at any stage what Mr. Bennett is supposed to have done. This is a democracy. Mr. Bennett has been smeared in every newspaper in the land; he has been smeared by a large number of Conservative Members; he has been smeared by innuendo. Yet no one, not one person, is prepared to come forward and say exactly what the evidence against him is.

No, I will not give way.

That is a serious matter and the House should consider very seriously what it is about to do.

No, I am not giving way. [Interruption.] If Conservative Members do not wish to listen to the serious attack on democracy that is taking place they are free to leave the Chamber, as I am sure you are well aware, Mr. Speaker. [Interruption.]

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I intend to put exactly on the record what happened on the occasion of my engagement of Mr. Ronan Bennett as my research assistant. It is important that it is put on the record and it is only in the House that I am able to do so. Many other forms of media are not interested in the matter; they are more interested in smearing an individual for what they believe to be his beliefs without even asking what they are.

I engaged Mr. Bennett on 18 August as a temporary research assistant to work with me and to provide me with advice, information, background notes and all the rest of it on matters of denial of justice in this country. He is eminently qualified to do that. He has a number of references from very well qualified lawyers and academics in this country who will attest to his ability, knowledge and understanding. It is important that that is placed on the record.

I applied for his pass in the normal way and it was issued immediately in the normal way by the Pass Office. He was then sent a form to ask for his declaration of interests and other employment, which he completed and returned. Indeed, the completed entry in the register of interests of research staff was returned to me. As far as I was concerned, he was employed by me to undertake work for me.

There then appeared outside my constituency surgery on 5 September 1987 two extremely aggressive and unpleasant people, who introduced themselves to me as being from the News of the World. They demanded to know why I had employed Mr. Bennett, and they went on to describe in graphic and colourful language that they had numerous statements from Conservative Members condemning me for employing this man, and asked what I thought about that.

The following day, an article appeared in the News of the World in lurid and colourful tones condemning me and Mr. Bennett. Only in passing did it admit or mention that Mr. Bennett has not been convicted of anything, because the conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in 1975; it did not say that the exclusion order placed on him under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in 1978 was lifted, after a three-month trial at the Old Bailey during which he defended himself and was complimented on his ability to do so by Judge Alan King-Hamilton. The article did not say these things in an open and overt way; it sought merely to condemn Mr. Bennett. That was the start of all this.

During my many conversations with journalists from the News of the World on 5 September 1987, one of them said to me in reply to my question how he had all this information and on what basis he was saying that Mr. Bennett was a security risk, "I have seen the security file."

I echo strongly what my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) said. If the security services, in their attempt to smear an individual and a Member of Parliament, are passing information to the nastiest and most unreliable gutter press that the world has seen, in the form of the News of the World, which is then used to condemn people, that merits at least an inquiry into what the security services are up to.

What then followed was again interesting for the connection that appears to exist between people who support either the Government's point of view on the matter or the security services and News International. On 3 October, I was telephoned by some journalists from The Sunday Times, who are far more competent than their colleagues on the News of the World, and far more reasonable in their approach. The subsequent article was considerably better written, but again they had information that Mr. Bennett's security pass was about to be withdrawn.

I had not been told about this; I had not been told anything about Mr. Bennett's pass during this time. The article appeared the following day on 4 October. Subsequently, Mr. Speaker, I received the letter from you confirming that Mr. Bennett's pass had been suspended because of advice that we know not, from whom we know not, saying we know not what, except that Mr. Bennett had some sort of stain on his character.

A very serious issue is at stake here. Mr. Bennett, having been cleared by courts at every level in this land, pursuing an academic career and employed by a Member of Parliament, is smeared by the press. The News of the World then claim a victory, as do Conservative Members, in having his pass suspended—it is a victory, as they put it. Mr. Bennett's pass is suspended, but how do we defend him? We do not know what he is supposed to have done. We do not know what allegations are being made against him, although there is a big question mark.

It is a bit rich and mealy-mouthed of the Leader of the House and other hon. Members to say that this is not taking away my right to employ Mr. Bennett. Of course it is not taking away my right to employ him; I know that it is not. But it does implant the view through every television screen, radio broadcast and newspaper in this country that there is something badly wrong with Mr. Ronan Bennett, to the extent that he is not allowed to be employed in the House of Commons. Yet there is no charge against him, nor a criminal record outstanding against him. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that it is a bit of a risk if the House, with Members elected to defend democracy, allows someone to be condemned without charge, trial or hearing in the way that it is apparently about to do this evening.

No, I will not give way to the hon. Gentleman.

It is important for us to remember many of the other issues that are before us. This House is an elected place because people struggled to make Parliament an elected and representative democracy. Hon. Members are elected by their constituents to make laws. Hon. Members are not invited to join the House of Commons by a majority decision. It is not a golf club committee that decides to invite me to come here and represent Islington, North, any more than it is a case of the Rotary club inviting people to join us. This is an elected Chamber. I was elected on behalf of the people of Islington, North in just the same way that every other hon. Member has been elected by constituents, whom they represent.

Therefore, if the House approves the motion, which will prevent Mr. Bennett from having a pass, because it believes him to be some kind of risk—nobody has ever said what sort of risk he is—obviously the message that will be received outside the House is that I am somehow or other unacceptable to the House. [Interruption.] Hon. Gentlemen might well find the matter very amusing. But I say to them that once the House of Commons allows a tyrannical majority opinion to be imposed on a minority, we shall be on a downward slope and the trend will become irreversible. This is a very serious matter, and I urge all hon. Members to think through the basis on which they were elected to the House, and operate as Members of Parliament. I urge hon. Members to think whether the majority in the House should start to remove rights and privileges from minorities and hon. Members; that is a very dangerous process.

I believe that we should also consider the running of the——

No, I will not give way to the hon. Gentleman.

We should also consider the running of the security services in this country, and the way they operate. I have just given an example which I believe is the tip of an iceberg. I have given an example of what I believe to be a case where the security services, probably having not persuaded somebody that Mr. Bennett's pass should be withdrawn, decided to leak the matter to the News of the World. They set the hounds running to create an atmosphere in which Mr. Bennett's pass could be withdrawn. It must also be said that we do not know anything about the security services from statements made by Ministers to the House; they are an unaccountable force. In fact, to find out anything about the security forces which is in a published form we have to go to Australia, or buy "Spycatcher", which tells of the experiences of one senior member of the security services.

That book contains many examples of the way in which the security services have sought to undermine democracy and free living in Britain. For example, on page 54 Mr. Peter Wright goes in detail into the way in which in 1955 the membership files of the Communist party were stolen from someone's flat, illegally copied and used for the next 20 years as a basis for the surveillance of trade union and Labour movement activity in Britain. There is nothing illegal about being in the Communist party in Britain or in living in Britain and supporting the Communist party.

There are many other examples throughout the book. On page——

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the element of sub judice in that that case is before the British courts? He must not quote from the book, but he may refer to it.

I was seeking to refer to the description of the way in which members of the security services sought to flout the democratic results of several general elections in Britain, to undermine, destabilise and ultimately remove the elected Government of Harold Wilson, now Lord Wilson of Rievaulx. There are many other examples. [Interruption.] If Conservative Members find the matter so amusing, it shows how shallow their judgment is on these matters. Ultimately, if no control is brought over the security services and the way in which they operate, they will destroy the very democracy under which they are hiding. They have proved to be a fundamentally undemocratic force which seeks to impose its rather curious, cockeyed view of the world on elected people, elected Governments and society generally.

The events of the past few years bear close examination. We have seen British newspaper offices and the BBC's offices in Scotland raided. We have seen the disconnection of telephones all over Salisbury plain when cruise missiles are out. We have seen the surveillance of people who are opposed to the presence of nuclear missiles in Britain. We have also seen the prevention of the publication of a large number of books. Why could not "British Intelligence and Covert Action" be published in Britain? It had to be published abroad because legal threats were made against anyone who sought to publish it. There is also the informal threat through the D-notice system.

If the House is genuinely concerned about liberty and freedom of expression, it must stand up for these issues. The British newspapers should not continue their supine support for an increasingly aggressive and authoritarian Government who are destroying and denying many liberties in Britain. It is important that everyone should be warned of exactly what has happened to one research assistant and the denial of justice that is implicit in the decision that Conservative Members clearly wish to take against that person. They know perfectly well that there is no court in the land to which he can appeal because all that has been said against him has been said in secret and an administrative decision has been taken against him against which he cannot appeal. That is the first thing that is so wrong about what has been said.

We should also deplore the secret agenda that is being imposed on us by the security services in this matter. If we accept that secret agenda—that secret power—and the secret smearing of individuals that goes on, further damage will be done later.

All hon. Members are elected to represent their constituencies, not the House. Therefore, they should be concerned about taking powers away from the House and handing them on somewhere else. Hon. Members should also be aware that people outside the House will consider it rather curious that we sit here hour after hour, night after night, debating and discussing the fine detail of the law that is to be administered to the rest of the country, but at the same time take a draconian decision that would have done credit to the Court of Star Chamber in removing the pass of someone employed by a Member of the House.

No, I shall not give way.

That episode, to which I have been a party since the early part of August, has taught me about the sordid nature of the private, secret relationship between the security services, certain newspapers and some hon. Members, hiding behind the cloak of immunity and off-the-record remarks made to newspapers in the attempt to smear and destroy one individual.

It might be said that it would have been much easier if I had merely dispensed with Mr. Bennett's services at the first sign of any flak. I refused to do that because that person has no convictions against him and he has a right to work for me. Above all, I, as a Member of Parliament, have a right to employ him.

If we do not do something about the power of unelected, secret and unaccountable security services, untold damage will be done to many other British people. Other smears will take place and other damage will be done. I invite the House to think seriously about those matters and to support the Opposition amendments which seek to protect the very democracy on which Conservative Members are so often pleased to preach in such a sanctimonious manner to the rest of the country.

5.51 pm

If there were any lingering doubts in any part of the House about your wisdom, Mr. Speaker, in suspending Mr. Bennett's security pass, they have been removed by the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn). It is now confirmed, as many people outside the House knew already, that a loony-Left Labour Member had appointed a Left research assistant.

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman please withdraw that remark because it touches on the honour of the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn)?

Of course, I withdraw it, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. Member for Islington, North asked what employment prospects there would be for his former research assistant. As my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) made clear, it is open to the hon. Gentleman to continue to employ Mr. Bennett as a research assistant, but not within the precincts of the Palace. It will also be possible for Mr. Bennett to find employment—here you will not rule me out of order, Mr. Speaker — with some of those loony Left-wing councils. I am one of those who have the misfortune to live in the London borough of Lambeth. I am sure that. Mr. Bennett will be able to find employment among those who control Lambeth borough council.

No, let me get on a little and then I shall give way.

I hope that after the community charge has become law the ability of Lambeth borough council to employ people such as Mr. Bennett will be diminished.

No, let me get on a little.

I want to examine some of the assertions in the amendment of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn). They are assertions in which even the right hon. Gentleman and his friends cannot believe. Those who have signed the amendment have done a service to the House and to the country because they have exposed once again how the hard Left in British politics uses high-sounding phrases such as "principles of parliamentary democracy" to cloak its determination to advance its own interests by any means, including those that are incompatible with democracy.

The right hon. Member for Chesterfield concluded his speech by saying that he was the champion of democracy. However, the right hon. Gentleman encouraged and supported violence on the picket lines to prevent miners who wanted to work from doing so. He was one of the principal allies of Mr. Arthur Scargill. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman, the self-proclaimed champion of democracy, was anxious to deny democracy to the trade unions. At every stage he voted against proposals to make secret ballots compulsory. How dare the right hon. Gentleman include his amendment in the Order Paper and then conclude his speech with a statement of his own commitment to democracy?

I want to consider some of the assertions in the amendment tabled by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield.

I shall not make any response to the hon. Gentleman's comments about me, but will he comment on the fact that Ronan Bennett served 13 months in prison for an offence that he did not commit? Is not it right that some apology should be made by someone to him for his false conviction and that that should be taken into account when references are made to him and his prospects?

It is not up to a Back-Bench Member to comment on the original conviction of Mr. Bennett or on the subsequent occasion when that conviction was quashed.

I want to consider some of the assertions in the amendment tabled by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield. The amendment states:
"Hon. Members must have an equal right to employ whoever they wish…in the Palace of Westminster."
That is a breathtaking proposition. Is an hon. Member to be allowed to employ a member or a supporter of the IRA within the precincts of the House? Is he to be allowed to employ within the precincts of the House a member or supporter of the Ulster Volunteer Force? Is an hon. Member to be allowed to employ in this place a member of the PLO? Are the security services to be denied the opportunity of protecting innocent people who visit the House of Commons and the hundreds of people who work here?

It is not possible to put hon. Members on a special pinnacle which makes them exempt from the proper scrutiny of the security services. The amendment tabled by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield continues:
"The withdrawal of the pass issued to Mr. Ronan Bennett has … unjustly, identified him as a potential threat to national security".
The security services reported to Mr. Speaker and, on the basis of that report, Mr. Speaker decided to withdraw the pass. In effect, the amendment challenges Mr. Speaker's judgment on a security matter.

Less than five months ago a motion was moved that Mr. Speaker
"do take the Chair of this House as Speaker."—[Official Report, 17 June 1987; Vol. 118, c.2.]
That motion was seconded by the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) who said:
"throughout the period for which he has sustained the office of Speaker, the right hon. Member for Croydon, North-East has discharged his duties in such a way as to bring great honour to this House."
He went on:
"Principalities, powers and Prime Ministers all have to be resisted at times, and the right hon. Gentleman has shown that he knows that to be a part of his function." —[Official Report, 17 June 1987; Vol. 118, c. 2–4]
The right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent has not signed the amendment moved by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield.

The right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent used to be the darling of the Left. Now even he is embarrassed by the amendment. Not one of those hon. Members who have signed the amendment voted against your taking the Chair, Mr. Speaker. Why not? Surely it would have been in accordance with those principles of parliamentary democracy referred to by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield in the amendment if there had been an alternative candidate for the Chair. Perhaps they could not agree among themselves which of them would fit more engagingly into wig, gown and buckled shoes. Perhaps some of the signatories to the amendment would claim that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) would have been the best choice, although some adjustment to the dress would have been required. Others would have preferred, as in former times, that there should have been a beard under Mr. Speaker's wig and the choice could then have fallen on the principal author of our discontent this afternoon, the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn).

On Wednesday last week the right hon. Member for Chesterfield raised a point of order with you, Mr. Speaker. He said:

"I understand that for some time, and unknown to the House, an unofficial security committee of Members of all parties has been meeting".—[Official Report, 4 November 1987; Vol. 121, c. 932.]
I stress the words "unknown to the House."

Your predecessor, Mr. Speaker, made two statements to the House, on 29 March 1976 and 27 July 1977, in which he made it perfectly clear that the informal joint committee of both Houses was a continuing one. The earlier statement records Mr. Speaker stating:
"I have consulted the Leader of the House and the authorities in the House of Lords, all of whom are in agreement that a Permanent Joint Committee should be set up." —[Official Report, 29 March 1976; Vol. 908, c. 896.]
I stress the word "permanent".

The amendment tabled by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield asserts that the House:
"knows of no powers that this House has … or could legitimately, take or assume, to determine who may work for an hon. Member in the Palace of Westminster."
However, more than 22 years ago the Lord Chamberlain, with the consent of the Queen, surrendered control of the Accommodation and services of this House to Mr. Speaker. Of course, Mr. Speaker exercises that control on behalf of the House and as its servant. Page 219 of "Erskine May" makes that very clear:
"In the House of Commons control is vested in the Speaker on behalf of the House."
The Standing Orders of the House provide that the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services) should advise Mr. Speaker on the control of accommodation and services. The amendment tabled by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield rejects the unanimous recommendation of that Committee. Six Labour Members served on that Select Committee. Not one of them dissented from the recommendation from which the amendment moved by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield dissents. The House might have more respect for those who support the amendment if the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends had voted in favour of the renewal of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984. Not one of them has done so. The amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield will give comfort to those who wish to undermine the security of this place.

The amendment is at best mischievous and at worst dangerous. However, we may leave the final verdict on the right hon. Member for Chesterfield to someone who knew him much better than I. On page 80 of the third volume of his diaries, the right hon. Gentleman's friend and mentor Dick Crossman states that his one concrete suggestion is that we should have government by electronic referendum. He concludes:
"The real problem about him is that his presentation is brilliant, but what he says is normally second rate and sometimes disastrously stupid."
I am sure that my hon. Friends will agree with that conclusion.

6.4 pm

All that I wish to say in my initial response to the contribution of the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) is that it does no credit to the House or the hon. Gentleman to start a debate on such a difficult and technical matter by resorting to abuse or superficiality. That does no good to anyone inside or outside the House, particularly in view of events that have taken place over the years.

My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) made a good and constructive contribution. He pointed out that the immediate threat to the House comes from terrorism in one form or another. He went on to say what I have been saying for many years—that in its wake it brings another threat, the threat to democracy. Terrorist groups in various parts of the world often seek to destroy democracy. We must establish whether we are getting the balance right between protecting the House and the institutions of democracy, and protecting the lives of individuals who may be at risk.

It comes as a relief to me, because I began to point this out in 1980 when I was first involved in the politics of Northern Ireland, that people now recognise what Conservative Members certainly did not recognise before — that the aim of paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland is to make the state here act in a more and more repressive manner. No less a person than the Prime Minister said yesterday that it was necessary to react more rationally, and, despite the emotion engendered by the events of the last few days, to exercise great reason and care. I support her in that. I only wish that Conservative Members had said it earlier in this decade; we might have reached the present position rather sooner.

My concern is not whether the Government have got the matter right, but that neither we nor the Leader of the House can know whether they have got it right. The difficulty is that the Conservative party seems to believe—this theme runs through nearly all the contributions that we have so far heard—that efficiency in the security services cannot go hand in hand with democracy. We take the opposite view. We believe not only that the security services operate effectively in a democracy, but that, unless a good many democratic checks and balances are in place, the security services will not only pose a danger to the country but, at times, do themselves a disservice and make a mockery of themselves. That can be seen from the "Spycatcher" escapade.

The hon. Gentleman has raised a valuable point, and has done a service to the House, which was in danger of trivialising a very serious issue.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, because of the unique set of circumstances that would surround such a judgment, the information presented to whoever made the necessary decision would fall into the category of either evidence, intelligence or suspicion? Surely the more protection exists within the group of people making a decision, the less chance there will be for suspicion to rule, and the more chance there will be that justice will be done for the individual, and protection given to others in the Palace.

The hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) is much more experienced in such matters than most hon. Members, and I urge the hon. Member for Eastbourne to listen carefully to what he says. The hon. Member for Newry and Armagh knows, as I have known for many years, that such legislation as the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984 are a required recruiting sergeant-major for the Provisional IRA arid other paramilitary groups. If the hon. Member for Eastbourne would at least consider that point, I would listen to his remarks with more respect. By not taking it seriously, the hon. Gentleman does what he accuses everyone else of doing. He plays into their hands.

The threat is real. Members of Parliament have been killed, members of the staff of the House have been injured—we need only remember the letter-bomb campaign of a few years ago—and there is a threat to the Houses of Parliament themselves, because they are a prestige target. The problem, as my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras pointed out, is the balance to he struck in protecting the institution.

My hon. Friend touched on two other points. First, he talked about risk-taking. We in the House ask members of the general security services—for instance, the police and the armed forces—to take risks, and, as my hon. Friend said, we too must take such risks. Let me give an example from Northern Ireland. If a police or prison officer feels that his life is under threat—as is frequently the case—because his address is known or because of activities that have taken place near it, he can apply to be moved. That practice is well established. When the necessary checks have been made, he may indeed be moved. However, the definition of risk is a tight one and officers who feel that they are at risk often have to stay where they are. Any Northern Ireland Member will know the feeling on this issue in both the prison and the police services. We are asking those men to take that risk as a consequence of debates in the House, and decisions that we make. We, too, must take risks.

Secondly, my hon. Friend pointed out—as I have pointed out over the years—that the paramilitary seeks to make a state more and more repressive. I remember that, soon after I was appointed as Front Bench spokesman on Northern Ireland in, I believe, 1981, I met a number of people who required far heavier security than I did, in both the Republic and the north of Ireland. I remember being driven to one appointment and receiving the usual special branch attention in the south. A senior Member of Parliament in a Government position said to me, "I did not know that you received that kind of security. I decided not to do so."

I thought hard about what that person had said, and discussed it with him. He said that if we continued down that road—and this applies in the United Kingdom as much as in Eire—we would end up with the police outriders, the sirens, the guarded politicians and everything that makes the democratic state seem remote, apparently controlled and protected by the police. We must resist that. I take my hat off to those in Ireland, north and south, who have faced the problem much more consistently than we have over the years. We have usually had to face it only when the Provisional IRA has chosen to launch a bombing campaign on our mainland.

The security services are the key. One of the reasons for our problems in today's debate is that the security services are not effectively accountable. We have two of the most famous security services in the world, MI5 and MI6: everyone knows about them, from Australia to Britain and back again, even in China and Tibet. But they do not exist in statute. Debates such as this would be much easier if we knew that we had a system in which the security services were accountable, as they are in other countries such as Australia, Canada, the United States and West Germany. They would then be no less effective—in many respects, they would be more so—and we would have a check

that does not now exist.

I strongly recommend the amendment. What worries me about so many of the interruptions from the Government Benches—usually made from a sedentary position—is their apparent wish to believe that Mr. Bennett is guilty, and that the court got it wrong. I can understand why they may wish to believe that, but I must point out the other side of the coin. After all, Conservative Members are always making this point about law and order and the courts.

If it is assumed that everyone who has been before a court and found not guilty is possibly guilty, it must also be stressed that the courts may get it wrong when they find someone guilty. Nevertheless, when someone is found guilty whom Conservative Members want to be found guilty, they defend the court's decision like mad. We cannot have it both ways; we must place our judgment in the court. As my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras rightly pointed out, if someone is found not guilty, it does not mean that he is not a security risk. We cannot have appalling scenes, with Conservative Members, some of whom have now left the Chamber, shouting, "Yes, we know, we know." They do not know. The courts do not know. We do not even know what the police believe about Mr. Bennett. Some of the police who brought Mr. Bennett before the courts, as opposed to the security services that might have been responsible for giving the information, may accept that Mr. Bennett is innocent.

Would the hon. Gentleman's view be different if I, or other of my hon. Friends, applied for a security pass for a research assistant if that person had been discharged recently from Lambeth magistrates' court, having been arrested on the charge of attempting to kidnap members of the African National Congress? Such a person would not have been either found guilty or convicted of anything by the courts. I understand that most Opposition Members believe that those men represent the interests of the South African intelligence service. Would not the hon. Gentleman's view be different about that, if I sought to employ such a man?

In that case I should assume innocence until guilt had been proved in a court of law. If there were a system such as my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras has set out in his amendment, we should be able to deal with the case that has been put to me by the hon. Gentleman. We should also be able to deal with the case that was outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn).

If Mr. Bennett cannot be employed by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North, I am not sure what would be the advantage of saying that he could still enter this building. If he were able to enter the building, all that we should have done would be to limit the areas that he could enter. If the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Adams) chose to take his seat, he could sit down in the Chamber, measure it and go anywhere else that he liked. He could bring all his personal belongings into the building without any check being made upon him. The policy of the party that he leads in Northern Ireland is that of the Armalite rather than the ballot box. I do not know what the hon. Member for Belfast, West would seek to do if he chose to take his seat, but there is merit in my hon. Friend's point: that there may be far better ways of doing this than the way that we are doing it at the moment.

We should forget about vetting. The EEC makes everybody—members of the European Parliament and others—go through a security check when they enter secure areas. We should consider such options rather than vetting, because vetting provides opportunities for paramilitary groups. If there is to be vetting, there is pressure to vet everyone — research assistants, secretaries, the press, canteen staff. If the Provisional IRA, INLA or one of the Unionist paramilitary groups decided to blow up something else, we should have to vet everybody in that area, too. For example, post office boxes were a favourite target fairly recently. Everybody in the postal service, right down to the canteen staff, would have to be vetted.

Vetting can be singularly inefficient. If it becomes too heavy a burden, all one can do is run the names through a computer. If I wanted to plant someone from the Provisional IRA or the Soviet Union in this building, I should not plant them with the obvious person; I should plant them with the least obvious person. I have pointed out on a number of occasions that those who have betrayed this country have not been members of the Labour party. They have been members of the Conservative party. To be effective, that is the side on which to plant them. We need to be more sophisticated than that. We need the committee structure that my hon. Friend has suggested.

Contacts by both Unionist and Republican parties in Northern Ireland with paramilitary groups have at times been very close. Members of Parliament, both Conservative and Labour, have also had contacts with those groups—contacts that many of us would regard as too close for comfort. We cannot make assumptions about one person who has appeared before a court.

We need to look with much more care at security in this building. I am more concerned about the vetting of cars than I am about the vetting of people. The changes over security checks on cars during the last couple of years are a much greater cause for concern than the vetting of secretaries and research assistants. A Member of Parliament has no way of knowing what is alleged against a particular person. If we trust democracy, we must sufficiently trust the elected representatives and set up a committee structure in which we can have confidence. It must be provided with information that will enable it to enter a proper judgment. We cannot presume guilt by making assumptions that the courts of law have said are not correct. However, that is what is happening now, and that is fundamentally wrong.

Democracy is not lost by a grand, overnight coup. It is lost by the slow erosion of civil liberties, usually at times of economic distress or war. In the 19th century, when Britain became the world's greatest democracy, we set ourselves remarkably high standards. Sadly, in the 20th century we have been found guilty before the European Court of Human Rights of violating many basic democratic rights. We have violated those rights more than any other country has violated them. That is the by product of two world wars and the Northern Ireland emergency.

There has to be a political solution to the Northern Ireland problem, but that is not relevant to this debate. Unless we address ourselves to the way in which we are allowing the democratic process to be eroded, it will continue to be eroded, and that will lead to a miserable existence for us all.

6.22 pm

The general tenor of the contributions to this debate has been more than marred by the continual resurgence of the Opposition's vendetta against the security services. I have listened with great care to all the contributions, and I must confess that I am very worried that we shall lose sight of what we are trying to achieve—better security and the better protection of hon. Members and staff—in the greater argument about whether or not we agree with the techniques of the security services.

The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) was very kind to his own party in seeking to provide in his amendment a mechanism by which it could get off the hook of the amendment that has been tabled by his own friends—if that is what they are called—on the far Left. I am disappointed that he advocated that the House should divide at the end of the debate, on the basis of his amendment. I thought that he supported the need for better protection of hon. Members and staff. He needed an excuse to try to build up pressure for the calling of a Division, and the grounds on which he wishes to divide the House are spurious in the extreme.

The House was in recess when the case arose that has given rise to this debate. No Committees had been set up. It might have been prudent, therefore, not to say that the Opposition would divide the House because the matter had not been referred to a Committee but to accept the reasonable course that reference to Mr. Speaker was the right action to take at that time. I was disappointed that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras backed away from the logic of his argument.

I was interested in the hon. Gentleman's request for an inquiry into the source of the leak. I have heard leak after leak and, whatever party has been in government, the requirement for a journalist to give his source of information has always been denied. If Labour Members are asking for journalists to be able to protect their sources of information——

I am told that it was a journalist who asked, "Is it true that you have employed an undesirable character?" That journalist has now been pressed to give his source of information. He might say that the security services is the source of the leak, but he would have to be a lot more precise than that.

This is an important point. We know that vetting of some sort occurred. We know that reports were sent to the Speaker but not seen by him, but we want to know how the reports got from the security services to a journalist. The people who behaved improperly are those in the security services, not the journalists.

I am not sure that that is what happened. However, because of the nature of this inquiry, a journalist would have to disclose his sources. Therefore, an inquiry would fail. It is a spurious reason for the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras to seek to divide the House However, he gave two reasons for wishing to divide the House : first, the inadequacy of the way that the information was handled and, secondly, the demand for an inquiry, which he suspected would not be granted.

Along with the late and lamented Mr. John Silkin, I was a co-author of the Services Committee's report. The Committee recognised that we could not ignore the security dimension. It was not within our remit, but as time went on it was clear that we had to take cognisance of the fact that there was a security dimension to everything that we were recommending. That is why paragraph 23 is in the report. We felt that, although the House had not given us the specific charge of considering security, we had to put down the appropriate markers and make suggestions accordingly. It is interesting to note that, when the report was debated on two previous occasions, no inquiries were raised about that specific subject. It is only when the whim or wish of an hon. Member is denied that we seek to return to the question again.

The fundamental point is the responsibilities that all of us in the House have to the others. A self-denying ordinance is always involved; we cannot always have our own way regardless of its effect on other people. As the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras said, we have a responsibility not only to the 649 other Members but to the 2,500 employees of the Palace of Westminster who depend on us for their security, safety and ability to go about their work without fear. Therefore, we cannot say, "It is my right to employ whom I want and to hell with the rest of you." If we are told that somebody whom we have put forward for employment in the Palace is suspect, we must heed that advice; we cannot afford to be sorry afterwards. I can imagine an hon. Member making a personal statement after a disaster and saying, "Mr. Speaker, it did not occur to me," or, "I did not think." We cannot take that risk. If there is a shadow of doubt, we must accept the advice that we are given. The right and proper way to proceed was suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop), who said that the Speaker is the custodian of trust in the House, and that we should heed Mr. Speaker's advice if it is tendered.

The mechanism that was set up by the report that was laid before the House in January in 1986 is perfectly fair, but some amendments could be made as to how advice is tendered. The delay to enable the Serjeant at Arms to have inquiries made is prudent, and it ill behoves us to ignore advice. If there is a shadow of doubt, we must not ignore it.

As to the self-denying ordinance, another more mundane dimension has been hovering around the edge of the debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) raised it in his amendment, and I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has agreed to accept it. I hope that he will accept my manuscript amendment because when we debated the matter in 1986 the resolution was wrong; we made it too narrow in referring only to research assistants. The term "research assistants" needs to be broadened to include hon. Members' personal assistants and hon. Members' personal staff.

When we adopted the report and put into effect its recommendations we were able to limit the numbers involved to 50 "overseas temporary research assistants", but as pressure increased, more 9C passes for temporary secretaries were being used and more 9D passes for temporary research assistants were being used, although those 9D people were not necessarily staying for the full four months that they were supposed to be employed. The consequence of that was that unreasonable pressures were being put on the Library—I had the honour of being Chairman of the Library Sub-Committee in the last Parliament—and the staff were placed in the invidious position of asking research assistants, "Who are you? What are you? What is your pass number? Are you entitled to be here? If not, go away."

Hon. Members who are not exercising this self-denying ordinance are loading the system, regardless of what happens. Some hon. Members have five research assistants working here, for whom there is no accommodation, and have no regard for the effect that it has on other people working in the House. We must reconsider this matter again because some hon. Members are not exercising this self-denying ordinance or regard that we have preached at us so often. It is a question of, "Don't do as I do; do as I say." It is right that we should return to this subject in the new Parliament to consider that matter.

With the best will in the world, the House has finite resources. We must work within them or agree that they be expanded under the appropriate framework. Currently, all that we have agreed is that hon. Members should reasonably expect to have a secretary in the Palace of Westminster. It is interesting to note that only 600 hon. Members do so. However, we have not taken the matter any further. Therefore, we must set down the criteria against which future planning can be carried out.

While I have the ear of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, may I make a plea for progress on 1, Cannon Row? It was expected that it would be completed in the autumn of 1988, but the completion date is now stretching into the middle distance, which will create pressure and exacerbate the difficulties that we have been talking about tonight. In the meantime, I hope that we will exercise that self-denying ordinance.

6.34 pm

The last point at least of the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Shepherd) will be unanimously agreed. Many strongly held views have been expressed today. The debate has been marred only by the obnoxious contribution by the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow). I disagree with the hon. Gentleman on many matters. However much I have disagreed with him, I have never before had occasion to describe a speech made by him as obnoxious. His contribution today was certainly in that category. It was out of tune with the seriousness of the debate. The time will come, I think, when even the hon. Gentleman will recognise that fact.

Your position is not in doubt, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Gentleman said that those of us who elected you to the Chair should not have done so if we now had any criticism of the security pass procedure. That is not the position at all. The hon. Gentleman must recognise that his comments were irrelevant. The debate centres on a citizen's right to some kind of redress against being refused a security pass and thus being denied the right to work on these premises.

It will not come as any surprise, at least to my hon. Friends, to hear me say that there is clearly a need for security at the Palace of Westminster. That is not in dispute. I have never protested, and I do not know of anyone who has, about the police requesting security passes—even hon. Members passes—from time to time. I should qualify that statement. The only person who has ever so questioned to my knowledge was Mr. Enoch Powell, who did not, I understand, wish to be asked for his pass. Perhaps he considered that he should be recognised, and that was that. It is quite appropriate that the police, on duty and carrying out their responsibilities, should try to make sure that those who come within the premises have a right to do so. That is not in any doubt.

Undoubtedly, any terrorist action that would be taken here would be considered a victory by the Provisional IRA. If it were able to explode a bomb anywhere within the Palace of Westminster, we can rest assured that it would not offer the kind of weasel apology that it made after last Sunday's atrocity. There is no doubt that we are faced with an onslaught of terrorism, and have been so faced for the past 17 years. The House is an important terrorist target. The need for security is in no doubt.

There is no doubt also about the need for a security service. There are aspects though about which I am far from happy. Even if a terrorist campaign were not being directed against our citizens and political democracy, we would still need a security service. I know of no democracy that does not have some such body. But, at the moment, we must query the political impartiality of the services. The matter does not relate only to Mr. Wright's book. Prior to that book, allegations were made by a former employee of MI5, Cathy Massiter. As I have asked previously on the Floor of the House, is it alleged that she lied when she made most serious allegations about the type of abuse that occurred?

During an Adjournment debate, I mentioned that lady, who lives in Sutton Coldfield in the west midlands. That place is not, of course, in my constituency, but the matter related to an important issue of civil liberties.

The right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler), the Secretary of State for Employment, took up the matter and carried out his responsibilities as a constituency Member of Parliament. The reply that he received from the chief constable was along the lines that Mrs. Haig had not been investigated by the special branch. It was only Mrs. Haig's persistence that prompted the right hon. Gentleman again to write to the chief constable, and that brought out the fact that the police had lied. That factor caused us great concern. I raised it during the Select Committee inquiry and was responsible for writing a minority report of the Committee on the special branch.

We must recognise that many people in this country, and certainly in the House, simply do not accept that, at this moment, the security services are as impartial as they should be. Indeed, from time to time one cannot help asking whether any senior officials at all in MI5 or MI6 actually vote Labour.

The reply to that question is obvious, as my hon. Friend has said.

I recognise, as I have said, the need for effective security here and for a security service. I recognise also that, perhaps, there is some slight disagreement between my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) and myself, that sometimes measures have to be taken. We must take such measures which protect not only ourselves but all those who work here. We have responsibility for everyone who works here. On occasions we may have to say that, for various security reasons, A, B or C may not be able to be employed here. That is the essence of the matter. It we must take such action, which we do not like but which is necessary in the climate in which we live, it is necessary for people to have some redress. It may be said that that is a reflection on Mr. Speaker. It is not a reflection on the occupant of the Chair. I do not know what sort of documentation Mr. Speaker has received. As I understand it, he has not seen all the documents. Perhaps there is no need for him to do so.

One thing is absolutely clear: if we leave the matter as it is and Mr. Speaker is given certain responsibilities, we shall bring about an invidious position. It is like questioning Mr. Speaker's impartiality. Moreover, if Mr. Speaker comes to a certain conclusion, it is difficult, except by way of a point of order or, in extreme cases, a motion of censure, to raise the matter on the Floor of the House. At the end of the day, it is far better for such matters to go to Select Committee. A Select Committee may come to a conclusion with which I disagree, but it is quite likely that there will be an opportunity for that Select Committee's report to be debated on the Floor of the House, and we may raise the subject at that time.

At the moment, we have the case of Mr. Bennett, whom I do not know from Adam. Like most people, I had never heard of the gentleman before all the publicity arose. He has been tarred and smeared. In effect, he has been told that he has no right to work here because he is a security risk. He may be a security risk; I do not know. How am I to judge? If we believe in democracy, the democratic process and the fact that every citizen in our country has a right to be heard, it is important that Mr. Bennett is heard. What right has Mr. Bennett to be heard at this stage?

That is why the reasoned amendment put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) should be accepted by the Leader of the House. If the amendment is accepted, to a large extent the problems with which we are now dealing can be overcome.

6.42 pm

I have listened with great interest to many contributions that have been made. Some contributions have strayed from the point of the debate. I take the House back to an interesting and carefully chosen analysis of events by the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson). He took us through the chronology of events. As I understand it, Mr. Bennett was originally convicted of a crime and was subsequently cleared when he appealed. Thereafter, a story appeared in the News of the World. That chronology is important.

Opposition Members seem to take the view that the News of the World story was leaked in some way by the security services. I declare an interest as a member of the National Union of Journalists. It is not beyond the wit of journalists to recognise a conviction in open court and then, indeed, to recognise that a conviction has been quashed on appeal. I do not believe for one moment that the News of the World story appeared as a consequence of a leak. One must be a subscriber to a conspiracy theory to believe that. I prefer to believe that journalists are capable of doing their own leg work. We are all agreed that we need checks on individuals. However, I was concerned at the admission by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House that checks take place after a pass has been issued to the person applying. It would be far more sensible to apply the checks or vetting process before the pass was issued.

That brings me to another important but difficult problem. While it may be possible for the police to make inquiries relating to British subjects, I am a little worried about the kind of checks that they might be able to undertake on foreigners. I hope that that matter will be considered.

I am worried, too, about one difficult problem—all hon. Members agree that it is difficult—in relation to the disclosure of secret information and advice to the Speaker from whatever source. Clearly, the public disclosure of the sources of such information, whether to a Committee or to the House, would jeopardise those sources. Indeed, if it was believed that the sources were to be compromised, they would dry up. One of our key dilemmas relates specifically to the disclosure of sources. In an intervention earlier in the debate, I mentioned that lives could be put at risk, and I do not believe that to be an exaggeration.

I shall finish my speech in a moment.

The question of false allegations is very important. We are faced with a difficult dilemma in having to assess information from very secret sources. I urge the House to rely on Mr. Speaker's judgment in this matter rather than on numbers. The Speaker is trusted— —

I will not give way, because I am about to finish. Mr. Speaker is trusted in many areas and this is one essential area where our trust should continue.

The motion, and indeed the amendment, deal with material risk to the House. I urge the House to err on the side of caution and on the side of safety, and I commend the motion to the House.

6.47 pm

I shall be brief, because I do not want to curtail the wind-up speeches. We are all agreed that this is a serious matter which potentially diminishes our liberty and the liberty of the individuals whom we seek to employ. The argument of the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason) is deeply flawed. It is perfectly possible to reveal what is alleged against an individual without revealing its source.

Of course it is. I think that you, Mr. Speaker, should be very cautious about accepting the power that is being handed to you. I find it deeply objectionable that an accused person should have no chance to answer the allegations against him. That is a breach of the fundamental principle of natural justice. It is absolutely unacceptable. You, Mr. Speaker, would bring your office into disrepute if you accepted the responsibility being offered to you. At the very least, you should require the right to share with an hon. Member the allegations against the person whom that hon. Member seeks to employ and to get the answers back before making your decision. If you do not do that, you may involve yourself in a possible injustice.

I am perhaps one of the few hon. Members who has been positively vetted. In the course of my positive vetting for the Civil Service, I had a special session with an officer of the special branch on the subject of my father and his attitudes. My father, who died last year, was an Irish Republican who believed that Ireland should never have been partitioned. He was committed to that belief throughout his life. However, he spent most of his life as a teacher in Birmingham. He was an absolute democrat, although he argued his case passionately. The special branch came close to failing to approve me as a member of the Civil Service because of my father's views about the situation in Ireland. My father was never engaged in any kind of violent or subversive action. Nevertheless, I was on the border line. In our present climate, if someone with identical views to my father sought employment with an hon. Member, his application would be stopped. That would be outrageous.

We are talking not only about civil liberties but about political freedom. Northern Ireland is a deep issue for the House. This week, of all weeks, we should know that. We have not found a solution. People are still dying. Britain has created a mess in Ireland and it is our duty to seek to solve the problem. If anyone who raises the subject of Ireland is regarded as politically illegitimate and if we are not allowed to employ people who are concerned with Ireland, we shall distort our democracy.

I once employed as a temporary research assistant a young man who comes from Iran. He approached me and told me that his sister had been tortured and killed in an Iranian prison. He sought the support of hon. Members from both sides of the House for a resolution to be sent to the United Nations calling for an end to the Iran-Iraq war. I got a temporary pass for him. He sought the signatures and left this place and nothing improper was alleged. I know that he was checked out because our ex-Deputy Chief Whip had words with me. An hon. Member might have sought to place an individual in the House who did, indeed, have nefarious purposes. That is why I cannot agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) that hon. Members and only hon. Members should vet. We could be used by someone who wanted to cause trouble here. However, it is crucial that any vetting should be fair and that every individual should be given the chance to answer any allegations. That is why I appeal to you, Mr. Speaker, whatever the outcome of the vote, not to involve yourself in a diminution of our democracy or in the restriction of the freedom of those who hold perfectly legitimate views that are considered unacceptable by the security services. You should not prevent such people from working for us, because if you do so, we shall all be diminished and our potential for solving the problems in Northern Ireland will be diminished.

6.53 pm

The hon. Lady the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) will forgive me if I do not follow her down that path.

There are three issues to be considered. The first is the constitutional issue dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop). The second is the philosophical issue and the question whether, as hon. Members, we have a right to employ whom we please on the premises of this House. I do not believe that we have that right. We must take into account the interests of all hon. Members and the interests of the staff. We should not support the proposition that we have that novel right.

There are two practical reasons why we should support the motion. First, on the question of security information, it is no use saying that one can give such information at all times because sometimes by giving information one reveals its source. Some information could have come from only one source. To give information in those circumstances would be to endanger our security officers. Secondly, we should consider not just the physical security of this building, mentioned by the hon. Members for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) and for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) but the security of hon. Members while they are outside the building. We cannot allow an associate of the IRA to go round parts of the building that are not open to the public and into hon. Members' offices where he could photograph their itineraries and find out where they are going outside the House. In all this, I am thinking especially of Northern Ireland hon. Members and of Robert Bradford who was assassinated only a few years ago. We cannot allow known supporters of the IRA to have the access to hon. Members' offices that a pass affords.

I am mindful of the time, but I shall finish with the challenge that I wanted to extend to the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), who I note is not here. It is interesting how Opposition Members talk about the rights of the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "He is here".] He may be here now, but he has not been here for the past three-quarters of an hour. We are talking about the rights of the House and hon. Members go off to talk to the press. Does the hon. Gentleman know whether Mr. Bennett has been a known associate of the IRA—because all the information we have is that he has?

It is the information that the security services have. The hon. Gentleman should tell us what he knows about Mr. Bennett's background.

6.55 pm

I shall not detain the House long. We are about to reach a decision. We have had a constructive debate and I am glad that the House has been united in its condemnation of terrorism. I am glad that the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright) is able to support our motion. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen) for his typically graceful and telling intervention.

The case that we have presented to the House is that you, Mr. Speaker, have a personal responsibility for our security within these precincts. You have that responsibility by virtue of your office and you assumed it when you were elected to the Chair. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow). If anybody wishes to look at "Erskine May" on this matter he should look at page 219. The entry follows from the decisions made in 1965.

I shall not attempt to improve on the case made out by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop). He argued with great clarity that having entrusted you, Mr. Speaker, with those responsibilities, among many others which are as difficult, the House should not seek to interfere with your judgment. That would weaken your authority and the whole House would be the loser thereby.

I note the difficulty that the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) found in answering those who asked him what sort of person he would find to be unsuitable as a research assistant. I recognise that he, too, would like to run a House of Commons that is secure, but I am bound to say that many of his remarks were out of touch with reality.

I found much with which to agree in the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson). However, he did not make the case for the substantial change in responsibility for our security that he is urging upon us. I am satisfied that our security is best entrusted to you, Mr. Speaker, and that it is best left to your discretion to seek advice as you choose whether from hon. Members on either side of the House or from those outside who can give you that information.

Opposition Members made a great deal of the publicity about Mr. Ronan Bennett. I made it clear in response to an intervention that I believe that those matters are better dealt with in private and that the publicity the case has received is to be regretted.

Will the Leader of the House now tell the House whether he will institute an investigation into how the information concerning Mr. Bennett's employment was given first to the News of the World and secondly to The Sunday Times?

That is the subject of the debate and it is not for me to institute an inquiry. I have neither the means nor the power to do so. I regret the publicity that was given. I also made it clear — I think that it was generally accepted in the House — that there is no difficulty with the continued employment by the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) of his research assistant if he chooses. The issue is different. It is about free and unescorted access to the House and on that we have to accept your judgment, Mr. Speaker.

My hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) spoke to his amendment with skill and authority. As I have made clear, the Government are happy to support it and for the Services Committee to be asked to look at the number of research assistants. That issue has been of concern for some time and I appreciate my hon. Friend's reminder that the Services Committee should now turn to it again.

I am content to accept the manuscript amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Hereford (Mr. Shepherd). I accept the logic of his argument that the Services Committee should spread its inquiry beyond research assistants to embrace Members' personal staff. I look forward to the Committee getting under way.

The issues before us are clear cut. I ask the House to endorse the steps taken in the interest of our security and to set in hand the work on the wider implications.

Amendment (a) proposed, to leave out from first House", to end and add:

`rejects the recommendation in the Second Report of the Services Committee, Session 1984–85, on security, on the grounds that it would infringe the principles of Parliamentary democracy, under which electors must have the right to elect the Members whom they choose, and honourable Members must have an equal right to employ whoever they wish to assist them with their Parliamentary duties; knows of no powers that this House has, has ever had, or could legitimately, take or assume, to determine who may work for an honourable Member in the Palace of Westminster ; believes that the withdrawal of the pass issued to Mr. Ronan Bennett has publicly, and unjustly, identified him as a potential threat to national security, without any evidence having been disclosed, or any hearing or trial, whereby he, personally, has suffered a serious injury ; warns that, if the security services are permitted to vet any person, including staff. lobby correspondents, or honourable Members, and effectively veto them, fundamental civil and democratic liberties will be eroded to the point where those affected would become licensed by the Crown, its ministers and servants, thus reversing centuries of struggle by the people of the United Kingdom through this House to gain control of the Executive, and hold it accountable for its actions; and therefore demands the immediate restoration of the pass to Mr. Ronan Bennett, and the complete discontinuation of the present, and wholly unauthorised, practice of vetting those who work in, and for, this House and its Members'.—[Mr. Benn.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 43, Noes 274.

Division No. 43]

[7 pm


Abbott, Ms DianeLitherland, Robert
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Livingstone, Ken
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Loyden, Eddie
Battle, JohnMcAllion, John
Benn, Rt Hon TonyMcCartney, Ian
Boateng, PaulMcKelvey, William
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)Madden, Max
Buchan, NormanMahon, Mrs Alice
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Meale, Alan
Canavan, DennisMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Cohen, HarryPatchett, Terry
Corbyn, JeremyPrimarolo, Ms Dawn
Cousins, JimRoberts, Allan (Bootle)
Cryer, BobRuddock, Ms Joan
Dalyell, TamSkinner, Dennis
Duffy, A. E. P.Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Thomas, Dafydd Elis
Flannery, MartinWall, Pat
Galloway, GeorgeWise, Mrs Audrey
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Heffer, Eric S.Tellers for the Ayes:
Hinchliffe, DavidMr. Bob Clay and Mr. Chris Mullin.
Hood, James
Hoyle, Doug


Adley, RobertBeith, A. J.
Aitken, JonathanBennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Alexander, RichardBevan, David Gilroy
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBiffen, Rt Hon John
Allason, RupertBlaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Alton, DavidBoswell, Tim
Amess, DavidBottomley, Peter
Arbuthnot, JamesBowis, John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Ashby, DavidBrazier, Julian
Ashdown, PaddyBright, Graham
Atkins, RobertBrown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Atkinson, DavidBrowne, John (Winchester)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Baldry, TonyBruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyBuck, Sir Antony
Beggs, RoyBurns, Simon

Burt, AlistairHolt, Richard
Butler, ChrisHordern, Sir Peter
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)Howard, Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Carrington, MatthewHowarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Cartwright, JohnHowell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Channon, Rt Hon PaulHowell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Chapman, SydneyHowells, Geraint
Chope, ChristopherHughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Cope, JohnIrvine, Michael
Couchman, JamesJanman, Timothy
Cran, JamesJessel, Toby
Currie, Mrs EdwinaJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Curry, DavidJohnston, Sir Russell
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Davis, David (Boothferry)Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Day, StephenKilfedder, James
Devlin, TimKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Dorrell, StephenKirkhope, Timothy
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesKirkwood, Archy
Dunn, BobKnapman, Roger
Durant, TonyKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Eggar, TimKnight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)Knowles, Michael
Evennett, DavidKnox, David
Fairbairn, NicholasLang, Ian
Fallon, MichaelLatham, Michael
Farr, Sir JohnLawrence, Ivan
Favell, TonyLee, John (Pendle)
Fearn, RonaldLeigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fenner, Dame PeggyLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyLightbown, David
Fookes, Miss JanetLilley, Peter
Forman, NigelLivsey, Richard
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Forth, EricLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Fox, Sir MarcusLord, Michael
Freeman, RogerLyell, Sir Nicholas
French, DouglasMcCrindle, Robert
Gale, RogerMacfarlane, Neil
Gardiner, GeorgeMacGregor, John
Garel-Jones, TristanMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Gill, ChristopherMaclennan, Robert
Goodhart, Sir PhilipMcLoughlin, Patrick
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMcNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMans, Keith
Gorst, JohnMaples, John
Gow, IanMarland, Paul
Gower, Sir RaymondMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Greenway, John (Rydale)Mates, Michael
Gregory, ConalMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')Meyer, Sir Anthony
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Ground, PatrickMiller, Hal
Grylls, MichaelMills, Iain
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynMiscampbell, Norman
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hampson, Dr KeithMitchell, David (Hants NW)
Hanley, JeremyMoate, Roger
Hannam, JohnMolyneaux, Rt Hon James
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Monro, Sir Hector
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Harris, DavidMoore, Rt Hon John
Hawkins, ChristopherMorrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Hayes, JerryMoss, Malcolm
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir BarneyMoynihan, Hon C.
Hayward, RobertNelson, Anthony
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidNeubert, Michael
Heddle, JohnNicholson, David (Taunton)
Heseltine, Rt Hon MichaelNicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)Onslow, Cranley
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Page, Richard
Hind, KennethPaice, James

Patnick, IrvineStern, Michael
Patten, John (Oxford W)Stevens, Lewis
Pawsey, JamesStewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Peacock, Mrs ElizabethStradling Thomas, Sir John
Porter, Barry (Wirral S)Sumberg, David
Porter, David (Waveney)Summerson, Hugo
Portillo, MichaelTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Powell, William (Corby)Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Price, Sir DavidTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Raffan, KeithTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyTemple-Morris, Peter
Redwood, JohnThompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Renton, TimThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Rhodes James, RobertThornton, Malcolm
Rhys Williams, Sir BrandonTownend, John (Bridlington)
Riddick, GrahamTracey, Richard
Ridley, Rt Hon NicholasTredinnick, David
Ridsdale, Sir JulianTrippier, David
Rifkind, Rt Hon MalcolmTwinn, Dr Ian
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Roe, Mrs MarionWaddington, Rt Hon David
Rossi, Sir HughWakeham, Rt Hon John
Rowe, AndrewWaller, Gary
Sackville, Hon TomWard, John
Scott, NicholasWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Shaw, David (Dover)Warren, Kenneth
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Watts, John
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)Wheeler, John
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)Wiggin, Jerry
Shersby, MichaelWilshire, David
Sims, RogerWinterton, Mrs Ann
Skeet, Sir TrevorWinterton, Nicholas
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)Wood, Timothy
Soames, Hon NicholasYeo, Tim
Speed, KeithYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)Tellers for the Noes:
Stanbrook, IvorMr. Richard Ryder and Mr. David Maclean.
Steen, Anthony

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after seven o'clock, MR. SPEAKER proceeded to put the Question on following related amendments pursuant to order of the House [6 November].

Amendment (b) proposed, to leave out from first "House" to end and add

'recognising the dilemmas confronting Parliament in the face of the continuing threat of terrorism, is determined that terrorists shall not be allowed to intimidate people, nor undermine democracy, and therefore, firmly believing that security must be maintained, considers that decisions on the safety of the House must be left to the decisions of the House itself and not to any other authorities; is concerned that important aspects of the arrangements for security of the House and the people working in it have no clear authority from the House, put Mr. Speaker in an invidious position, leave judgments on the security of the House in the hands of a branch of Government and can undermine the civil liberties of an individual by providing no redress for any person accused of being a threat to the security of the House; therefore calls for all aspects of the safety of the House, and the rights and duties of Members in relation to it, to be considered by the Privileges Committee and the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services), in order to secure the maximum degree of physical safety of those working in the Palace of Westminster and others, compatible with the need to preserve the rights of honourable Members and free access to the House by the public, through procedures permitting evaluation by the House of information furnished by the Metropolitan Police; and declares that matters relating to the safety of this House must remain the exclusive responsibility of this House.'—[Mr. Dobson.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 140, Noes 269.

Division No. 44]

[7.11 pm


Abbott, Ms DianeIngram, Adam
Allen, GrahamJones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterKaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Armstrong, Ms HilaryKinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Leighton, Ron
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Lestor, Miss Joan (Eccles)
Battle, JohnLewis, Terry
Beckett, MargaretLitherland, Robert
Benn, Rt Hon TonyLivingstone, Ken
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Bidwell, SydneyLofthouse, Geoffrey
Blair, TonyMcAllion, John
Boateng, PaulMcCartney, Ian
Bray, Dr JeremyMacdonald, Calum
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)McFall, John
Buchan, NormanMcKay, Allen (Penistone)
Buckley, GeorgeMcKelvey, William
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)McNamara, Kevin
Campbell-Savours, D. N.McWilliam, John
Canavan, DennisMadden, Max
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Mahon, Mrs Alice
Clay, BobMallon, Seamus
Clelland, DavidMarek, Dr John
Cohen, HarryMaxton, John
Coleman, DonaldMeale, Alan
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Michael, Alun
Corbett, RobinMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Corbyn, JeremyMoonie, Dr Lewis
Cousins, JimMorgan, Rhodri
Crowther, StanMorley, Elliott
Cryer. BobMullin, Chris
Dalyell, TamMurphy, Paul
Darling, AlastairO'Brien, William
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)O'Neill, Martin
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Dewar, DonaldPatchett, Terry
Dixon, DonPowell, Ray (Ogmore)
Dobson, FrankPrescott, John
Duffy, A. E. P.Primarolo, Ms Dawn
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs GwynethQuin, Ms Joyce
Evans, John (St Helens N)Reid, John
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)Richardson, Ms Jo
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Fatchett, DerekRogers, Allan
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Rooker, Jeff
Fisher, MarkRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
Flannery, MartinRowlands, Ted
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelRuddock, Ms Joan
Foster, DerekSalmond, Alex
Foulkes, GeorgeSheerman, Barry
Fraser, JohnShort, Clare
Fyle, Mrs MariaSkinner, Dennis
Galloway, GeorgeSmith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Garrett, John (Norwich South)Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
George, BruceSnape, Peter
Golding, Mrs LlinSoley, Clive
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)Steinberg, Gerald
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Stott, Roger
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Strang, Gavin
Grocott, BruceStraw, Jack
Hardy, PeterTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Harman, Ms HarrietThomas, Dafydd Elis
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyWall, Pat
Heffer, Eric S.Wareing, Robert N.
Hinchliffe, DavidWelsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Holland, StuartWilliams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Home Robertson, JohnWilson, Brian
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)Wise, Mrs Audrey
Hoyle, Doug
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Tellers for the Ayes:
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)Mr. David Winnick and Mr. Ken Eastham.
Illsley, Eric


Adley, RobertAlison, Rt Hon Michael
Aitken, JonathanAllason, Rupert
Alexander, RichardAlton, David

Amess, DavidGorst, John
Arbuthnot, JamesGow, Ian
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Gower, Sir Raymond
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Ashby, DavidGreenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Atkins, RobertGreenway, John (Rydale)
Atkinson, DavidGregory, Conal
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Baldry, TonyGriffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)Ground, Patrick
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyGrylls, Michael
Beggs, RoyGummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Beith, A. J.Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Hampson, Dr Keith
Bevan, David GilroyHanley, Jeremy
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterHannam, John
Boswell, TimHargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Bottomley, PeterHargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Bowis, JohnHarris, David
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardHawkins, Christopher
Brandon-Bravo, MartinHayes, Jerry
Brazier, JulianHayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Bright, GrahamHayward, Robert
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Heathcoat-Amory, David
Browne, John (Winchester)Heddle, John
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon AlickHicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Buck, Sir AntonyHiggins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Burns, SimonHind, Kenneth
Burt, AlistairHolt, Richard
Butler, ChrisHordern, Sir Peter
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)Howard, Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Carrington, MatthewHowarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Cartwright, JohnHowell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Channon, Rt Hon PaulHowell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Chapman, SydneyHowells, Geraint
Chope, ChristopherHughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Colvin, MichaelHurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Irvine, Michael
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Janman, Timothy
Cope, JohnJessel, Toby
Couchman, JamesJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Cran, JamesJohnston, Sir Russell
Currie, Mrs EdwinaJones, Robert B (Herts W)
Curry, DavidKellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Kilfedder, James
Davis, David (Boothferry)King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Day, StephenKirkhope, Timothy
Devlin, TimKirkwood, Archy
Dorrell, StephenKnapman, Roger
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Dunn, BobKnight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Eggar, TimKnowles, Michael
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)Knox, David
Evennett, DavidLang, Ian
Fairbairn, NicholasLatham, Michael
Fallon, MichaelLawrence, Ivan
Farr, Sir JohnLee, John (Pendle)
Favell, TonyLeigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fearn, RonaldLester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Fenner, Dame PeggyLightbown, David
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Li I ley, Peter
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyLivsey, Richard
Fookes, Miss JanetLloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Forman, NigelLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Lord, Michael
Forth, EricLyell, Sir Nicholas
Fox, Sir MarcusMacfarlane, Neil
Freeman, RogerMacGregor, John
French, DouglasMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Gale, RogerMaclean, David
Gardiner, GeorgeMaclennan, Robert
Garel-Jones, TristanMcLoughlin, Patrick
Gill, ChristopherMcNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Goodhart, Sir PhilipMans, Keith
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMaples, John
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMarland, Paul

Marshall, John (Hendon S)Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Shersby, Michael
Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinSims, Roger
Meyer, Sir AnthonySkeet, Sir Trevor
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Miller, HalSoames, Hon Nicholas
Mills, IainSpeed, Keith
Miscampbell, NormanSpicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mitchell, David (Hants NW)Stanbrook, Ivor
Moate, RogerSteen, Anthony
Molyneaux, Rt Hon JamesStern, Michael
Monro, Sir HectorStevens, Lewis
Montgomery, Sir FergusStewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Moore, Rt Hon JohnStradling Thomas, Sir John
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)Sumberg, David
Moss, MalcolmSummerson, Hugo
Moynihan, Hon C.Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Nelson, AnthonyTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Neubert, MichaelTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Nicholson, David (Taunton)Temple-Morris, Peter
Nicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Onslow, CranleyThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Page, RichardThornton, Malcolm
Paice, JamesThurnham, Peter
Patnick, IrvineTownend, John (Bridlington)
Patten, John (Oxford W)Tracey, Richard
Pawsey, JamesTredinnick, David
Peacock, Mrs ElizabethTrippier, David
Porter, Barry (Wirral S)Twinn, Dr Ian
Porter, David (Waveney)Waddington, Rt Hon David
Portillo, MichaelWakeham, Rt Hon John
Powell, William (Corby)Walker, Bill (Tside North)
Price, Sir DavidWaller, Gary
Raffan, KeithWard, John
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Redwood, JohnWarren, Kenneth
Rhodes James, RobertWatts, John
Rhys Williams, Sir BrandonWheeler, John
Riddick, GrahamWhitney, Ray
Ridley, Rt Hon NicholasWiddecombe, Miss Ann
Ridsdale, Sir JulianWiggin, Jerry
Ritkind, Rt Hon MalcolmWilshire, David
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)Winterton, Mrs Ann
Roe, Mrs MarionWinterton, Nicholas
Rossi, Sir HughWood, Timothy
Rowe, AndrewYeo, Tim
Ryder, RichardYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Sackville, Hon Tom
Scott, NicholasTellers for the Noes:
Shaw, David (Dover)Mr. Tony Durant and Mr. Mark Lennox-Boyd.
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment (c) proposed, at end add

`and in particular to consider whether the numbers of research assistants with access to the precincts of the House should be reduced, bearing in mind the pressure on the capacity of the facilities of the House.'—[Mr. Onslow.]

Manuscript amendment to proposed amendment proposed, leave out "research assistants" and insert "Members' personal staff".— [Mr. Colin Shepherd.]

Question put, That the amendment to the proposed amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 251, Noes 107.

Division No. 45]

[7.24 pm


Aitken, JonathanAshby, David
Alexander, RichardAtkins, Robert
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelAtkinson, David
Allason, RupertBaker, Nicholas (Dorset N)
Amess, DavidBaldry, Tony
Arbuthnot, JamesBarnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Beaumont-Dark, Anthony
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Beggs, Roy

Beith, A. J.Harris, David
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Hawkins, Christopher
Bevan, David GilroyHayes, Jerry
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterHayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Boswell, TimHayward, Robert
Bowis, JohnHeathcoat-Amory, David
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardHeddle, John
Brandon-Bravo, MartinHeseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Brazier, JulianHicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Bright, GrahamHiggins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Hind, Kenneth
Browne, John (Winchester)Holt, Richard
Burns, SimonHordern, Sir Peter
Burt, AlistairHoward, Michael
Butler, ChrisHowarth, Alan (Strafd-on-A)
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Carrington, MatthewHowells, Geraint
Cartwright, JohnHughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Channon, Rt Hon PaulHunt, David (Wirral W)
Chapman, SydneyHunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Chope, ChristopherIrvine, Michael
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)Janman, Timothy
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Jessel, Toby
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Cope, JohnKellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Couchman, JamesKilfedder, James
Cran, JamesKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Currie, Mrs EdwinaKirkhope, Timothy
Curry, DavidKnapman, Roger
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Davis, David (Boothferry)Knowles, Michael
Day, StephenKnox, David
Devlin, TimLang, Ian
Dorrell, StephenLatham, Michael
Dunn, BobLawrence, Ivan
Durant, TonyLee, John (Pendle)
Eggar, TimLeigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Evennett, DavidLester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Fairbairn, NicholasLightbown, David
Fallon, MichaelLilley, Peter
Farr, Sir JohnLloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Favell, TonyLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Fenner, Dame PeggyLord, Michael
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyMacfarlane, Neil
Fookes, Miss JanetMacGregor, John
Forman, NigelMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Maclean, David
Forth, EricMcLoughlin, Patrick
Fox, Sir MarcusMcNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Freeman, RogerMans, Keith
French, DouglasMaples, John
Gale, RogerMarland, Paul
Gardiner, GeorgeMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Garel-Jones, TristanMarshall, Michael (Arundel)
Gill, ChristopherMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Goodhart, Sir PhilipMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMeyer, Sir Anthony
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMiller, Hal
Gorst, JohnMills, Iain
Gow, IanMiscampbell, Norman
Gower, Sir RaymondMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Moate, Roger
Greenway, John (Rydale)Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Gregory, ConalMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')Moore, Rt Hon John
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Ground, PatrickMoss, Malcolm
Grylls, MichaelMoynihan, Hon C.
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynNelson, Anthony
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Neubert, Michael
Hampson, Dr KeithNicholson, David (Taunton)
Hanley, JeremyNicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)
Hannam, JohnOnslow, Cranley
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Page, Richard
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Paice, James

Patnick, IrvineStevens, Lewis
Patten, John (Oxford W)Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Pawsey, JamesStradling Thomas, Sir John
Peacock, Mrs ElizabethSumberg, David
Porter, Barry (Wirral S)Summerson, Hugo
Porter, David (Waveney)Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Portillo, MichaelTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Powell, William (Corby)Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Price, Sir DavidTemple-Morris, Peter
Raffan, KeithThompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Redwood, JohnThurnham, Peter
Rhodes James, RobertTownend, John (Bridlington)
Rhys Williams, Sir BrandonTracey, Richard
Riddick, GrahamTredinnick, David
Ridley, Rt Hon NicholasTrippier, David
Ridsdale, Sir JulianTwinn, Dr Ian
Rifkind, Rt Hon MalcolmVaughan, Sir Gerard
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)Waddington, Rt Hon David
Roe, Mrs MarionWakeham, Rt Hon John
Rossi, Sir HughWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Rowe, AndrewWaller, Gary
Ryder, RichardWard, John
Sackville, Hon TomWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Scott, NicholasWarren, Kenneth
Shaw, David (Dover)Watts, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Wheeler, John
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)Whitney, Ray
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Shersby, MichaelWiggin, Jerry
Sims, RogerWilshire, David
Skeet, Sir TrevorWinterton, Nicholas
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)Wood, Timothy
Soames, Hon NicholasYeo, Tim
Speed, KeithYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)Tellers for the Ayes:
Stanbrook, IvorMr. Colin Shepherd and Mr. Robert Adley.
Steen, Anthony
Stern, Michael


Abbott, Ms DianeFoulkes, George
Allen, GrahamFraser, John
Alton, DavidFyfe, Mrs Maria
Archer, Rt Hon PeterGarrett, John (Norwich South)
Ashdown, PaddyGeorge, Bruce
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Golding, Mrs Llin
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Battle, JohnGrocott, Bruce
Beckett, MargaretHardy, Peter
Benn, Rt Hon TonyHarman, Ms Harriet
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Heffer, Eric S.
Bidwell, SydneyHinchliffe, David
Boateng, PaulHome Robertson, John
Bray, Dr JeremyHoyle, Doug
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Buchan, NormanHughes, Simon (Southwark)
Buckley, GeorgeIllsley, Eric
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Ingram, Adam
Canavan, DennisKinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Kirkwood, Archy
Cohen, HarryLeighton, Ron
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Lestor, Miss Joan (Eccles)
Corbyn, JeremyLewis, Terry
Cousins, JimLitherland, Robert
Dalyell, TarnLivingstone, Ken
Darling, AlastairLivsey, Richard
Dewar, DonaldLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dobson, FrankLofthouse, Geoffrey
Duffy, A. E. P.McAllion, John
Eastham, KenMacdonald, Calum
Evans, John (St Helens N)McFall, John
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)McKelvey, William
Fatchett, DerekMcLeish, Henry
Fearn, RonaldMcNamara, Kevin
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Madden, Max
Flannery, MartinMahon, Mrs Alice
Foster, DerekMaxton, John

Meale, AlanSmith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)Snape, Peter
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)Soley, Clive
Moonie, Dr LewisStrang, Gavin
Mullin, ChrisStraw, Jack
O'Brien, WilliamTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
O'Neill, MartinTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Orme, Rt Hon StanleyThomas, Dafydd Elis
Patchett, TerryWall, Pat
Reid, JohnWareing, Robert N.
Richardson, Ms JoWelsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Roberts, Allan (Bootle)Winnick, David
Rooker, JeffWise, Mrs Audrey
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Ruddock, Ms JoanTellers for the Noes:
Salmond, AlexMr. Bob Cryer and Mr. Bob Clay.
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put. That the amendment, as amended, be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 243, Noes, 114.

Division No. 46]

[7.35 pm


Adley, RobertEggar, Tim
Aitken, JonathanEvans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Alexander, RichardEvennett, David
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelFallon, Michael
Amess, DavidFarr, Sir John
Arbuthnot, JamesFavell, Tony
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Fenner, Dame Peggy
Ashby, DavidField, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Atkins, RobertFinsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Atkinson, DavidFookes, Miss Janet
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Forman, Nigel
Baldry, TonyForsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyForth, Eric
Beggs, RoyFox, Sir Marcus
Beith, A. J.Freeman, Roger
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)French, Douglas
Bevan, David GilroyGale, Roger
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterGardiner, George
Bottomley, PeterGarel-Jones, Tristan
Bowis, JohnGill, Christopher
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardGoodhart, Sir Philip
Brandon-Bravo, MartinGoodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Brazier, JulianGorman, Mrs Teresa
Bright, GrahamGorst, John
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Gower, Sir Raymond
Browne, John (Winchester)Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Burt, AlistairGreenway, Harry (Baling N)
Butler, ChrisGreenway, John (Rydale)
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)Gregory, Conal
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Carrington, MatthewGriffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Cartwright, JohnGround, Patrick
Channon, Rt Hon PaulGrylls, Michael
Chapman, SydneyGummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Chope, ChristopherHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)Hampson, Dr Keith
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Hanley, Jeremy
Colvin, MichaelHannam, John
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Cope, JohnHarris, David
Couchman, JamesHawkins, Christopher
Cran, JamesHayes, Jerry
Currie, Mrs EdwinaHayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Curry, DavidHayward, Robert
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Heathcoat-Amory, David
Davis, David (Boothferry)Heddle, John
Day, StephenHeseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Devlin, TimHicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Dorrell, StephenHiggins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesHind, Kenneth
Dunn, BobHolt, Richard
Durant, TonyHoward, Michael

Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)Redwood, John
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Rhodes James, Robert
Howells, GeraintRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Riddick, Graham
Hunt, David (Wirral W)Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Hurd, Rt Hon DouglasRobinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Irvine, MichaelRoe, Mrs Marion
Janman, TimothyRossi, Sir Hugh
Jessel, TobyRowe, Andrew
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyRyder, Richard
Jones, Robert B (Herts W)Sackville, Hon Tom
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs ElaineScott, Nicholas
Kilfedder, JamesShaw, David (Dover)
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Kirkhope, TimothyShephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Knapman, RogerShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Knight, Greg (Derby North)Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Knowles, MichaelShersby, Michael
Knox, DavidSims, Roger
Lang, IanSkeet, Sir Trevor
Latham, MichaelSmyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Lawrence, IvanSoames, Hon Nicholas
Lee, John (Pendle)Speed, Keith
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Speller, Tony
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkSpicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lightbown, DavidStanbrook, Ivor
Lilley, PeterSteen, Anthony
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Stern, Michael
Lord, MichaelStevens, Lewis
Lyell, Sir NicholasStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Macfarlane, NeilStewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
MacGregor, JohnStradling Thomas, Sir John
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)Sumberg, David
Maclean, DavidSummerson, Hugo
McLoughlin, PatrickTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Mans, KeithTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Maples, JohnTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Marland, PaulTemple-Morris, Peter
Marshall, John (Hendon S)Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Thurnham, Peter
Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinTownend, John (Bridlington)
Meyer, Sir AnthonyTracey, Richard
Miller, HalTredinnick, David
Mills, IainTrippier, David
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)Twinn, Dr Ian
Mitchell, David (Hants NW)Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Moate, RogerWaddington, Rt Hon David
Molyneaux, Rt Hon JamesWakeham, Rt Hon John
Montgomery, Sir FergusWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)Waller, Gary
Moss, MalcolmWard, John
Moynihan, Hon C.Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Nelson, AnthonyWarren, Kenneth
Neubert, MichaelWatts, John
Nicholson, David (Taunton)Wheeler, John
Nicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)Whitney, Ray
Page, RichardWiddecombe, Miss Ann
Paice, JamesWilshire, David
Patnick, IrvineWinterton, Nicholas
Patten, John (Oxford W)Wood, Timothy
Peacock, Mrs ElizabethYeo, Tim
Porter, Barry (Wirral S)Young, Sir George (Acton)
Porter, David (Waveney)
Portillo, MichaelTellers for the Ayes:
Powell, William (Corby)Mr. Cranley Onslow and Mr. Jerry Wiggin.
Price, Sir David
Raffan, Keith


Abbott, Ms DianeBarnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)
Allen, GrahamBattle, John
Alton, DavidBeckett, Margaret
Archer, Rt Hon PeterBenn, Rt Hon Tony
Armstrong, Ms HilaryBennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)
Ashdown, PaddyBoateng, Paul
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Bray, Dr Jeremy

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Livsey, Richard
Buchan, NormanLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Buckley, GeorgeLofthouse, Geoffrey
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Loyden, Eddie
Canavan, DennisMcAllion, John
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)McCartney, Ian
Clay, BobMacdonald, Calum
Clelland, DavidMcFall, John
Cohen, HarryMcKay, Allen (Penistone)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)McKelvey, William
Cook, Robin (Livingston)McLeish, Henry
Corbyn, JeremyMcNamara, Kevin
Cousins, JimMahon, Mrs Alice
Crowther, StanMaxton, John
Dalyell, TamMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Darling, AlastairMichie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Dewar, DonaldMoonie, Dr Lewis
Dobson, FrankMowlam, Mrs Marjorie
Duffy, A. E. P.Mullin, Chris
Eastham, KenO'Brien, William
Evans, John (St Helens N)O'Neill, Martin
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)Patchett, Terry
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)Prescott, John
Fatchett, DerekReid, John
Fearn, RonaldRichardson, Ms Jo
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Flannery, MartinRooker, Jeff
Foster, DerekRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
Foulkes, GeorgeRuddock, Ms Joan
Fraser, JohnSalmond, Alex
Fyfe, Mrs MariaShort, Clare
Garrett, John (Norwich South)Skinner, Dennis
George, BruceSmith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Golding, Mrs LlinSmith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)Snape, Peter
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Soley, Clive
Grocott, BruceSteinberg, Gerald
Hardy, PeterStrang, Gavin
Harman, Ms HarrietStraw, Jack
Heffer, Eric S.Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Hinchliffe, DavidTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Hoyle, DougThomas, Dafydd Elis
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Wall, Pat
Illsley, EricWallace, James
Ingram, AdamWareing, Robert N.
Jones, leuan (Ynys Môn)Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Kirkwood, ArchyWinnick, David
Leighton, RonWise, Mrs Audrey
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eccles)
Lewis, TerryTellers for the Noes:
Litherland, RobertMr. Bob Cryer and Mr. Alan Meale.
Livingstone, Ken

Question accordingly agreed to.

Main Question as amended put:—

The House divided: Ayes 238, Noes 103.

Division No. 47]

[7.49 pm


Adley, RobertBrazier, Julian
Aitken, JonathanBright, Graham
Alexander, RichardBrown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBrowne, John (Winchester)
Amess, DavidBurt, Alistair
Arbuthnot, JamesButler, Chris
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)
Ashby, DavidCarlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Atkins, RobertCarrington, Matthew
Atkinson, DavidCartwright, John
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Baldry, TonyChapman, Sydney
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyChope, Christopher
Beggs, RoyClark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Bevan, David GilroyColvin, Michael
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterCoombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Bottomley, PeterCoombs, Simon (Swindon)
Bowis, JohnCope, John
Brandon-Bravo, MartinCouchman, James

Cran, JamesKnowles, Michael
Currie, Mrs EdwinaKnox, David
Curry, DavidLang, Ian
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spatd'g)Latham, Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry)Lawrence, Ivan
Day, StephenLee, John (Pendle)
Devlin, TimLeigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Dorrell, StephenLester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesLightbown, David
Dunn, BobLilley, Peter
Durant, TonyLloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Eggar, TimLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)Lord, Michael
Evennett, DavidLyell, Sir Nicholas
Fallon, MichaelMacGregor, John
Farr, Sir JohnMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Favell, TonyMaclean, David
Fenner, Dame PeggyMcLoughlin, Patrick
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Mans, Keith
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyMaples, John
Fookes, Miss JanetMarland, Paul
Forman, NigelMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Forth, EricMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Fox, Sir MarcusMeyer, Sir Anthony
Franks, CecilMiller, Hal
Freeman, RogerMills, Iain
French, DouglasMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Gale, RogerMitchell, David (Hants NW)
Gardiner, GeorgeMoate, Roger
Garel-Jones, TristanMolyneaux, Rt Hon James
Gill, ChristopherMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Goodhart, Sir PhilipMorrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMoss, Malcolm
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMoynihan, Hon C.
Gorst, JohnNelson, Anthony
Gower, Sir RaymondNeubert, Michael
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Nicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)
Greenway, John (Rydale)Onslow, Cranley
Gregory, ConalPage, Richard
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')Paice, James
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Patnick, Irvine
Ground, PatrickPatten, John (Oxford W)
Grylls, MichaelPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynPorter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Porter, David (Waveney)
Hanley, JeremyPortillo, Michael
Hannam, JohnPowell, William (Corby)
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Price, Sir David
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Raffan, Keith
Harris, DavidRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hawkins, ChristopherRedwood, John
Hayes, JerryRhodes James, Robert
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir BarneyRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Hayward, RobertRiddick, Graham
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidRidley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Hind, KennethRoe, Mrs Marion
Holt, RichardRossi, Sir Hugh
Howard, MichaelRowe, Andrew
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)Ryder, Richard
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Sackville, Hon Tom
Howells, GeraintScott, Nicholas
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Shaw, David (Dover)
Hunt, David (Wirral W)Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Hurd, Rt Hon DouglasShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Irvine, MichaelShersby, Michael
Janman, TimothySims, Roger
Jessel, TobySkeet, Sir Trevor
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreySmyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Jones, Robert B (Herts W)Soames, Hon Nicholas
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs ElaineSpeed, Keith
Kilfedder, JamesSpeller, Tony
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Kirkhope, TimothySpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Knapman, RogerStanbrook, Ivor
Knight, Greg (Derby North)Steen, Anthony

Stern, MichaelWakeham, Rt Hon John
Stevens, LewisWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)Waller, Gary
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)Ward, John
Stradling Thomas, Sir JohnWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Sumberg, DavidWarren, Kenneth
Summerson, HugoWatts, John
Taylor, Ian (Esher)Wheeler, John
Taylor, John M (Solihull)Whitney, Ray
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Temple-Morris, PeterWiggin, Jerry
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)Wilshire, David
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)Winterton, Mrs Ann
Thurnham, PeterWinterton, Nicholas
Townend, John (Bridlington)Wood, Timothy
Tracey, RichardYeo, Tim
Tredinnick, DavidYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Trippier, David
Twinn, Dr IanTellers for the Ayes:
Vaughan, Sir GerardMr. Mark Lennox-Boyd and Mr, Alan Howarth.
Waddington, Rt Hon David


Abbott, Ms DianeLestor, Miss Joan (Eccles)
Alton, DavidLewis, Terry
Archer, Rt Hon PeterLitherland, Robert
Armstrong, Ms HilaryLivingstone, Ken
Ashdown, PaddyLivsey, Richard
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Battle, JohnLoyden, Eddie
Beckett, MargaretMcAllion, John
Benn, Rt Hon TonyMcCartney, Ian
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Macdonald, Calum
Boateng, PaulMcFall, John
Bray, Dr JeremyMcKay, Allen (Penistone)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)McKelvey, William
Buchan, NormanMcNamara, Kevin
Buckley, GeorgeMahon, Mrs Alice
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Canavan, DennisMichie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Mowlam, Mrs Marjorie
Clay, BobMullin, Chris
Cohen, HarryO'Brien, William
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)O'Neill, Martin
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Patchett, Terry
Corbyn, JeremyPrescott, John
Crowther, StanQuin, Ms Joyce
Dalyell, TarnReid, John
Darling, AlastairRichardson, Ms Jo
Dobson, FrankRoberts, Allan (Bootle)
Eastham, KenRooker, Jeff
Evans, John (St Helens N)Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)Ruddock, Ms Joan
Fatchett, DerekSalmond, Alex
Fearn, RonaldShort, Clare
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Skinner, Dennis
Flannery, MartinSmith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Fraser, JohnSmith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Fyfe, Mrs MariaSnape, Peter
Garrett, John (Norwich South)Soley, Clive
Golding, Mrs LlinSteinberg, Gerald
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Strang, Gavin
Grocott, BruceStraw, Jack
Hardy, PeterTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Harman, Ms HarrietTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Heffer, Eric S.Thomas, Dafydd Elis
Hinchliffe, DavidWall, Pat
Hoyle, DougWareing, Robert N.
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Winnick, David
Illsley, EricWise, Mrs Audrey
Ingram, Adam
Jones, leuan (Ynys Môn)Tellers for the Noes:
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldMr. Bob Cryer and Mr. Alan Meale.
Kirkwood, Archy
Leighton, Ron

Question accordingly agreed to.


That this House endorses the application of the recommendation contained in paragraph 23 of the Second Report of the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services) in Session 1984–85 (House of Commons Paper No. 195); and invites the Select Committee to consider the wider implications for control over access to the precincts of the House and in particular to consider whether the numbers of Members' personal staff with access to the precincts of the House should be reduced, bearing in mind the pressure on the capacity of the facilities of the House.