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Justice and Security Green Paper

Volume 533: debated on Wednesday 19 October 2011

With permission, Mr Speaker, I should like to make a statement. I have today laid before Parliament the justice and security Green Paper. The document is the culmination of more than one year of careful analysis and consideration on how to respond to a difficult challenge for any liberal democracy: addressing how sensitive material can be properly handled in the civil justice system and how the work of the security and intelligence agencies can be properly scrutinised and those bodies held accountable.

The problem is this: in recent years, there has been an increase in the number and diversity of judicial proceedings that examine national security-related actions. In many cases, the facts cannot be fully established without reference to sensitive material, but this material cannot be used in open court proceedings without risking serious damage to national security or international relations. Difficulties arise both in cases in which individuals are alleging Government wrongdoing and in cases in which the Government are seeking to take Executive action against individuals who pose a risk to the public. The consequence is a Catch-22 situation in which the courts may be prevented from reaching any fully informed judgment on the case because they cannot hear all the evidence in the case. They cannot hear all the evidence because it would do serious damage to national security if the evidence was available to all parties and the public. The Government are left with unsatisfactory choices: they could risk damage to national security by disclosing the material or summaries of it, or attempt to defend a case with often large amounts of relevant material excluded. If the material cannot safely be disclosed, the Government may be forced to settle cases, either by paying compensation or by withdrawing a case brought against an individual.

Further problems are posed by applications for the disclosure of sensitive material being sought for use in other legal proceedings, particularly those overseas. The material has sometimes been generated by foreign Governments and shared with the United Kingdom Government on the most confidential of bases. In these cases, disclosure would endanger crucial international partnerships and put at risk the sharing of information, which is critical to Britain’s national security.

These are issues of the utmost importance, which the previous Government faced just as much as the current one do. The work of the security and intelligence agencies, and the sensitive information that they and foreign partners produce, is essential to prevent terrorist attacks, disrupt serious crime networks and make the case for Executive actions such as deportations and asset freezing.

The current situation is clearly unsatisfactory for everyone: the Government are unable to defend their actions; claimants are left without clear judgments based on all the relevant information; and the public are left with no independent judgment by the court, because it has not been able to consider all the evidence. So the justice and security Green Paper contains a number of proposals to address these extremely difficult issues, and takes account of recent Supreme Court judgments. The Green Paper seeks views on a range of proposals including: extending the so-called closed material procedures, such as those used already in certain civil contexts, to all civil proceedings; clarifying the law on the requirement to provide a summary of the sensitive material heard in closed procedures to the other party when the procedures are utilised; enhancing the existing special advocate system to equip it to best serve the interests of the individual affected by the closed hearings; and ensuring that security issues are properly considered in cases seeking disclosure of material for use in other legal proceedings, including proceedings overseas.

The Green Paper has a further vital goal: reviewing the existing oversight arrangements for our security and intelligence agencies and the wider intelligence community. Allegations of misconduct undermine public confidence in the work of the security and intelligence agencies. It is essential that we have a strong system for overseeing their activities.

In recent years the context in which the agencies work has changed significantly, with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and 7 July 2005. There have been revolutionary changes in the way that people communicate and use technology. Cyber-security is a major and growing issue, and the budgets and public profiles of the agencies have increased substantially. Given all these changes it is important to ensure that scrutiny of the agencies and the wider intelligence community is effective and credible in the eyes both of Parliament and the public.

The Green Paper makes proposals further to develop the status and remit of the Intelligence and Security Committee, the Intelligence Services Commissioner and the Interception of Communications Commissioner. The Intelligence and Security Committee—that is the existing Committee—has recommended a number of detailed reforms and these have formed the basis of several of the proposals in the Green Paper. Significant reforms that we are floating include changing its status to become a statutory Committee of Parliament, giving Parliament a greater say in ISC appointments and giving the ISC greater powers to require information from the security and intelligence agencies.

The document seeks views on the appropriate balance of arrangements across the overall system of oversight. The Government welcome scrutiny of their activities in every area, including national security. The Green Paper seeks ways to increase both judicial and other independent scrutiny of such matters to unprecedented levels without undermining protection of the public and whilst maintaining strong safeguards for the rights of individuals. Faced with difficult challenges, Governments are sometimes encouraged to suppose that they need to choose between security on one hand and the rule of law on the other, but that is a false choice. As I hope this Green Paper shows, we must have both. I commend this statement to the House.

First, may I thank the Secretary of State for Justice for giving advance sight of his statement this morning and for the briefing that was provided last week? We are supportive of the attempts by the Government to find a solution to the challenging situations that are encountered in sensitive legal cases. At the outset, I would like to take the opportunity to pay tribute to our security and intelligence services for the difficult and challenging work they do in keeping our country and citizens safe.

As the Secretary of State said, the work of the security and intelligence agencies and the sensitive information that they and foreign partners produce is essential to prevent terrorist attacks, disrupt serious crime networks and make the case for Executive action such as deportations and asset-freezing. It is important that we support them with this difficult task, and finding a sensible way of handling intelligence material in judicial proceedings is one way in which we can do that. The starting point for all of us is, I hope, restating the principle of open justice, which is a central tenet of our justice system. However, we also recognise that there are occasions when the use of classified intelligence can prove to be a challenge to maintaining open justice. This is compounded by the fact that we are in a globalised environment where the sharing of intelligence between international allies is crucial to ensuring our national security and interest overseas.

I agree with much of what the Secretary of State has said about the challenges we face in this area. I hope that he has had a chance to read the excellent piece in The Independent today written by my right hon. Friend the shadow Home Secretary on the importance of strong oversight for strong national security. It recognises that changes are required to ensure that scrutiny of the agencies and the wider intelligence community is effective and credible in the eyes of both Parliament and the public.

We need, as a matter of urgency, to bolster the safeguards and scrutiny mechanisms concerning issues of security and intelligence. I welcome the fact that the Secretary of State is proposing measures to enhance the powers of the Intelligence and Security Committee. We support the publication of a Green Paper: it is right and proper to foster a debate on what are challenging issues and to encourage key stakeholders to contribute their thoughts.

That being said, I want to take this opportunity to ask a number of questions of the Secretary of State. First, who will decide which cases are treated in the way that he sets out in his Green Paper? How many cases does he believe will be dealt with in the manner suggested and what advice has he received from special advocates and from others involved in the Special Immigration Appeals Commission? How will the overall system be scrutinised? Who will undertake the role of overseeing the whole system? Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman comment on the views of the intelligence and security agencies on these proposals? Are they supportive of what has been recommended in the Green Paper?

We are happy to work with the Government to increase both judicial and other independent scrutiny of the intelligence and security agencies without undermining the protection of the public and while maintaining strong safeguards for the rights of individuals.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his extremely constructive response, which is important. As I said, these problems were just as acute for the previous Government as they are for the present one, and with the mounting number of actions being brought in this field, the situation is getting steadily worse. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the Government hope to get cross-party agreement. This is a very green paper. We are genuinely open to suggestions as to how to tackle the issue.

It is very much in the national interest that we do that. As the right hon. Gentleman has just said, we intend to protect our system of open justice and at the same time to protect the security of our intelligence agencies and public safety. It is essential that we set aside the ordinary partisan debate and seek to produce a system whereby our public and our allies can be reassured that these matters will be handled sensitively in this country. People will share intelligence with us knowing that it will be used properly, will not be misused and will not be disclosed in areas where it would do damage. At the same time, the public will be able to find out more often the outcome of complaints and actions involving the security services, and have a judge take the matter to a conclusion. I welcome what the right hon. Gentleman said.

I have indeed read the article in The Independent produced by the shadow Home Secretary. I have to say that she, too, was briefed on Privy Council terms, I think. I am used to that. I have been briefed on Privy Council terms quite frequently in the past by members of the previous Government and did not always leap out to the nearest newspaper in order to give a reaction to the briefing that I had just had, but of course in the spirit of bipartisanship that I have just proclaimed, I will take her views seriously. She is trying to find reasons for disagreeing with us on both sides of the argument, but sooner or later she will decide whether we are being too draconian and protective or too indifferent to individual liberties. I look forward to further instalments as, no doubt, does my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

The first question that the shadow Justice Secretary asked is key. He asked who will decide that the closed material procedure is the right way to proceed in whatever civil action we are talking about. In the first case it will be put to the court by the Secretary of State, but the final decision will rest with the judge. That is absolutely key. The special advocate is quite entitled to challenge the fact that this evidence is being given under the closed procedure, and the judge will have to be satisfied that on what he or she knows of the claim, it is indeed reasonable to proceed on that basis and there is indeed a threat to national security. That is a considerable reassurance.

I do not know how many cases there will be. The present pattern is that the numbers of cases is steadily increasing. It is becoming fashionable, almost, to start challenging the courts in encounters of any kind with the intelligence agencies. I do not dismiss all these actions, but there are about 30 coming through the pipeline now, so it is urgent that we address the matter.

Accountability is like the ordinary accountability for the court process, but the ISC will no doubt play a part in seeing how the proposal is working and its impact on the Security Service. On the Intelligence and Security Committee’s views on its own reform, as I have already said, we have based many of our recommendations on what the Committee itself has said. It is my understanding—I may discover more clearly in a moment, if any of my right hon. Friends intervene—that the ISC is broadly supportive of where we are going. We are undoubtedly strengthening the Committee. It is being made a Committee of Parliament. It will be accountable to Parliament as well as to the Prime Minister, and it will have increased powers if our proposals gain favour in the course of the consultation.

I welcome the publication of the Green Paper because it is better to find a way of getting intelligence material into closed court proceedings than for the cases to remain unresolved. May I point out to the Secretary of State that if that is extended to inquests, it will strengthen the case for a chief coroner, which I have put to him? As someone who has served on the Intelligence and Security Committee for a long time, I believe very strongly that that Committee has to have access to operational information in order to do its job properly.

On the first point, we canvassed opinion on the prospect of it being extended to inquests. There will be a range of views on that, so this is a genuinely green part of the Green Paper. My view is that in cases where families are desperately anxious to have a proper inquiry and for someone to make some judgments about what caused the death of a family member, it is particularly unsatisfactory if the whole thing cannot be brought to some sort of conclusion because the proceedings are too open to members of the public so the evidence cannot be heard. We will therefore consult carefully on inquests. I am not sure that the legislation proposing that we have a chief coroner would have given him any powers to do much about such inquest cases, but no doubt that issue will be raised if we continue to debate whether we need a chief coroner.

We propose to improve the ISC’s powers to require information to be brought before it. There are of course difficulties and sensitivities relating to operational information, but those will no doubt be raised in response to the Green Paper and are touched on, rather carefully, in the document I have published today.

On the strengthening of the ISC, I commend what the Secretary of State is proposing. It is 17 years since the ISC was established—a different time and in the shadow of the cold war—and, as he has pointed out, circumstances have changed, so the proposals must be right. On the main part of his statement, I congratulate him on finding what appear to be elegant solutions to the terrible dilemma that successive Home Secretaries and Foreign Secretaries have faced, as I know, where the pursuit of apparent openness has resulted in injustice being done to the intelligence and security agencies and the plaintiffs, and sometimes defendants, in these actions. Will he confirm that the model he is seeking to extend for criminal-related cases will build on the establishment, many years ago, of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission? He says that the matter is urgent, and I entirely agree, so when does he plan to conclude the consultation and introduce legislation?

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. He will not be surprised to learn that, although I made the statement today, I have been working very closely with my right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary, whose interests are crucially involved, as he well knows, having done both jobs. We propose to complete the consultation by January next year, by which time we expect to be able to come back with legislation for the House to consider. I hope that people will feed in their views, because the whole point is to try to carry as much consensus in the House as possible. Although we have not yet decided, we will perhaps introduce legislation next year.

Order. We have a further statement to follow and it is of course an Opposition day. I therefore appeal to all Members, without regard to seniority or distinction, for brevity.

My right hon. and learned Friend will know well that much of the success of intelligence is based upon co-operation with other countries. Does he agree that one of the most difficult components in the balance we must strike is the need to ensure that we do not prejudice relations with other countries, such as those with whom we have a special intelligence relationship, such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand?

Having said that I worked on this with the Home Secretary and the Foreign Secretary, I have now seen my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office, the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr Letwin), who was extremely closely involved in these matters.

Yes, and the ladies who made the tea. I compliment them all. I work very closely with colleagues and this is very much a Government Green Paper.

On co-operation, I agree entirely with my right hon. and learned Friend. We share information and work closely with reliable allies, with whom we are mutually very dependent, and apply the so-called control principle. It would clearly make things impossible if they feared that legal processes in the United Kingdom would mean that the confidentiality of information they share with us was likely to be compromised. It is of great importance to the security of this country that we do not compromise that principle.

I welcome the Green paper and the fact that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is working closely again with the Home Secretary on this and other issues, but I caution against extending the role of special advocates in any way. I do not know whether he was suggesting that, but there are criticisms of special advocates and the way they deal with information. I welcome the fact that the ISC is to be enhanced, but there have been occasions when the Home Affairs Committee has asked the head of MI5 to appear before us, only to be told that we must visit him. Will this now mean that he will appear before the Home Affairs Committee when we ask?

Special advocates are a key part of what we are proposing. Controlled material proceedings will involve the use of special advocates, but the Green paper touches on how to improve that use. There are serious problems relating to how much special advocates have to know about the evidence they will hear before they can take proper instructions from their clients and how far they can report back to their clients the gist of what has been said. At the moment that works quite well in immigration tribunals, on which this is based, but the Green Paper asks for suggestions on how the role of special advocates can be improved. They are an essential part of the process, but anything that helps us handle the difficulties in using them would be welcome.

I warmly welcome the priority given to the protection of information provided by friendly foreign Governments, because, quite frankly, without that protection the provision of that intelligence would simply dry up, to the great detriment of this country. As Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, may I say how much the Committee welcomes the decision to follow its recommendation that it should become, for the first time, a Committee of Parliament and be given effective powers relating to the operation of the intelligence agencies and not simply relating to policy, procedure and administration, as laid down in the current legislation? That is very much to be welcomed because it will enable Parliament and the public to have confidence that there is genuine, independent and effective oversight of our intelligence agencies.

I am grateful for that authoritative response to the Green Paper. I think that it matters on both sides of the House that the ISC becomes a Committee of Parliament and, in a fuller sense, is accountable to Parliament as well as to the Prime Minister. We can build on the excellent work it has done since it was first established.

I, too, welcome the Green paper and its proposals. Maintaining the confidence of our allies in sharing their information is absolutely key, but so is maintaining the British public’s confidence in our legal system. If closed proceedings are to be extended, there will be controversy about the role of special advocates, not only in the House, but more broadly among the public, so the proposals to strengthen their role are particularly important. We must ensure that we get that right so that the public, defendants and the whole system have confidence in a fair trial and at the same time protect and maintain the necessary secret intelligence we have. It is a difficult balance to strike, but I am sure that the Secretary of State is up to it.

The right hon. Lady is also a member of the ISC, so I am grateful for her support for our proposals. She is quite right to stress the need for public confidence generally. The present situation is wholly unsatisfactory. The Guantanamo Bay case, which we settled recently, showed exactly what can go wrong. I had to come to the House to announce that we had paid out a total of £20 million, together with costs, because we had ceased to defend the action. Everyone who was inclined to believe the detainees thought that there was secret information that would confirm everything they said, and everyone who was against the detainees thought that the security services had been crippled, that they could have defended themselves and that we were paying money to worthless people. Every conspiracy theory could flourish, depending on temperament, before we even started. That is no way to retain public confidence. In our view that definitely requires closed material procedures, which means that we must have special advocates, so we welcome views on how to improve the way in which they carry out that very difficult task.

The purpose of state secrecy is to protect the safety of citizens, not to cover up criminality or to avoid embarrassment. In the Binyam Mohamed case, which led to the Gibson inquiry, the very senior judges involved went to a great deal of trouble to balance the requirements of security and open justice, but, from what I understand of this Green Paper, I am concerned that had my right hon. and learned Friend’s proposals been in place a few years ago, what we learned from the Binyam Mohamed case would not have been put in the public domain, that we would not have had the Gibson inquiry and, indeed, that we would not have been able to resolve the issues arising from it. Other nations—Canada, Australia, Germany, France and Italy; all our major allies other than America—are able to be very robust about that. Why can we not be?

If my right hon. Friend will excuse me, I shall not comment on the Binyam Mohamed case in detail. The judges take one view and others take another, but the Green Paper addresses the problem. One would need the facility for closed material procedures, so the starting point would be a decision, confirmed by the judge, that in the interest of national security the case should take place in closed proceedings and, therefore, not be revealed afterwards. That is an altogether better way of resolving the issue than allowing an argument to break out between judges, the Security Service and everybody else afterwards about whether something has been revealed that should not have been. That was where we were in the case of Binyam Mohamed.

I cannot remember my right hon. Friend’s second point, but we have got the balance right. Members of the Intelligence and Security Committee have said that confidentiality vis-à-vis allies is absolutely crucial, and it is no good currying favour by trying to get behind that, because in fact the safety of people in this country would be endangered if we did not have the full and frank co-operation of allied countries providing us with their intelligence, just as we provide them with ours.

Order. I am still seeking brevity, an object lesson in which I know will be provided by the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Paul Goggins).

I am very grateful, Mr Speaker, and I, too, welcome the Green Paper. It is perfectly clear that the balance on disclosure has tipped too far in sensitive cases, and that results in Ministers being constrained in their ability to fulfil their ultimate obligation, which is to protect the public. Given the complexity of the situation, may I ask specifically what plans the Secretary of State has to consult the judiciary?

I have had some preliminary discussions with the judiciary, and I am quite sure that they will now respond quite fully to our Green Paper, but I agree that, as we are making very important changes to civil procedure, it is essential that we take on board their views. In the end, this House will decide, but it would be most unsatisfactory and be asking for a great deal of future trouble if we started trying to put in civil procedures that the judiciary thought unsatisfactory and, in case law, sought to modify. I have taken great trouble to consult the judiciary, and I will continue to do so. I think that that will be possible, because they are just as concerned as everybody else about national security and, certainly, about open justice, and they will help us to reach a conclusion.

There will be nervousness at the use of special advocates in cases such as those of the Guantanamo detainees or in inquests. Does the Secretary of State agree that the most effective way of stopping such cases coming forward is to ensure that international law is observed, that torture is never condoned implicitly or explicitly and that our security services are more effectively monitored so that we can always be certain about the probity of their activities?

I certainly agree with all my right hon. Friend’s principles, and they are confirmed by the current Government: we are flatly against the use of torture; we do comply with international law; my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has published new guidelines for the security and intelligence services; and, as I have said, we certainly want them to be properly accountable.

No one has ever established malpractice in previous cases, and one thing we are seeking to do is to draw a line under all the past allegations. I have been settling cases and all the rest of it, but no one has ever made an adverse finding against the security services on any of those grounds. Having public confidence, we now want a process whereby we can sustain it.

The Secretary of State will be aware that certain judicial decisions on intelligence sharing have undermined the confidence of our close allies, particularly the United States, with a material effect on some areas in which they are willing to co-operate. Does he not share my concern that our close allies will be concerned to find that he now places on judges the burden of making those decisions? In reality and in our experience, judges look at the conduct of their own proceedings, rather than at national security.

There has been the one case, the Binyam Mohamed case, which we have touched on, but unsurprisingly no one here has touched on the growing number of cases under the so-called Norwich Pharmacal procedure, on which we make recommendations. It is important that we do not find that the interests of the particular parties lead to highly sensitive intelligence material just getting into the public domain. Having consulted the judiciary, and from my experience of them, I have to say that it is actually wrong to argue that they are indifferent to the needs of national security; they accept that we need clear reform of our processes. We had been waiting for some Supreme Court cases before we produced our final proposals in this Green Paper, and the judiciary think it is time for Parliament to make clear how the processes can be modified to enable them to protect justice and liberty on the one hand and national security on the other.

Will my right hon. and learned Friend please set out the position in respect of Northern Ireland? It is of course a part of the United Kingdom, and it bears the scars of conflict all too well, so will these measures be applicable in Northern Ireland?

It is very important that my hon. Friend raises this issue. We have indeed consulted the Northern Ireland Office. The issue applies to Northern Ireland, and these matters come up frequently in the Northern Ireland context. In the course of our consultation on the Green Paper, I expect that we will receive quite a lot of representations based on the experience there.

We clearly need some form of closed material procedure, if only to deal with the counter-intelligence threat, which is very strong at the moment, from countries such as Russia, but may I urge the Lord Chancellor to look at whether the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee could not, as is the case with the Public Accounts Committee, always be a member of the Opposition? The Member who currently holds the post could perfectly well have held it when we were in power, so would it not make greater sense for the Chair to be a member of the Opposition?

Well, we will look at that, because I stress that this is a Green Paper and we are seeking cross-party consensus, which, were we ever to go into opposition again, I trust we would maintain on such subjects. The shadow Home Secretary made the same point, and we will look at it, but the idea that the Chairman’s party allegiance is an important consideration is not immediately obvious to me. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman confirms that the current Chairman, who happens to be a Conservative MP, is a former Foreign Secretary and whom nobody criticises as Chairman, is the right person to be Chairman. A rule that the Chair switches party might be relevant to other Committees, but for this Committee it is not quite as necessary as it obviously is for a Select Committee.

I commend the Justice Secretary for drawing the politicised sting from the false battle between justice and security. Will he give us his early thoughts on the possibility of creating an inspector-general of the intelligence services in order to ensure that oversight is concentrated in a single body?

The idea is floated in the Green Paper, and it often comes up. We will obviously look at it, alongside all the other things we are looking at to make the security services more accountable, but it is a suggestion often made, it remains a live issue and we will consider it very carefully.

One way we could make the new Committee effective would be to guarantee that its reports were debated in this Chamber. Will the Government commit to making time for such debates, or will they leave it to the Backbench Business Committee?

That is more a matter for the Leader of the House than for me, but I am just turning to some members of the Committee, and I note that its reports are debated here sometimes. If Members with a close interest in the subject do not consider the frequency of debate to be adequate, however, I suggest that they take it up with my right hon. Friend. I do not think that these particular measures touch upon the frequency of debate, but the Committee is to be made more accountable to Parliament. That is one of the underlying features of our reforms.

I am instinctively uncomfortable about keeping evidence secret from those in court cases, but I look forward to seeking the detailed safeguards in the Green Paper. The Secretary of State says that the measures are intended for civil cases, but what assurances can he give the House that he will not consider using similar processes for criminal cases, in which somebody’s liberty might be at risk?

There is no question of having this in criminal cases—it would be quite impossible. A person could not be convicted on the basis of evidence that he was not allowed to hear and that was withheld from the public. The position will be the same after this as it is now—if evidence is not possessed that can be used in open court, the prosecution has to be dropped and cannot proceed. I share my hon. Friend’s sensitivities about any part of civil proceedings being closed—particularly, for example, in inquests, as I said a moment ago. However, I have come to the conclusion that that is less unsatisfactory than a situation in which the case cannot be heard in civil proceedings, so both parties go away, both claiming they are still right, and nobody has been able to hear all the evidence and give a judgment that, although not everybody will always accept it, will be of considerable reassurance to the general public if someone has heard it all and come to a conclusion.

Does the Secretary of State acknowledge that it is vital that we have a common regime across the United Kingdom in dealing with the fight against terrorism? Given that, what talks will he have with the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland to ensure not only that there is a consistent approach but that there are no loopholes?

I think that the issues are exactly the same, in relevant cases, in all parts of the United Kingdom. Obviously the situation in Northern Ireland is particularly relevant to all this, so we have already consulted in Northern Ireland with the Justice Minister and others, and we will continue to do so. We are hoping to resolve problems that have been big in Northern Ireland for a long time, and we could not possibly have different principles applying on either side of the Irish sea.

Does my right hon. and learned Friend recognise that there remains a high level of dissatisfaction with the degree of parliamentary scrutiny covering issues in relation to, for instance, extraordinary rendition, which was investigated in Europe in an inquiry that I was associated with but which here in this House was dealt with only by an all-party committee? In those circumstances, does he think that the changes that he is proposing will enable the Intelligence and Security Committee to look into these matters more effectively?

Yes, indeed; I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I remind him that we are going to look into rendition and a lot of the other allegations once we get the Gibson inquiry under way. It is clear that that inquiry will go into all the things that have troubled my hon. Friend and other people for some years. Again, we try to do these things in parallel. We are trying to draw a line under the past and then make sure that practice in future attracts less criticism because there is less ground for it. We cannot start the Gibson inquiry until the police have completed their investigations, which are still ongoing; as soon as they have concluded them, the whole question of rendition, among other things, will be looked at by the inquiry.

The Secretary of State rightly highlighted the importance of the growing cyber-threat. He is of course aware that the vast majority of targets of those threats are in areas such as finance, utilities and so on, which, historically, we have not regarded as places where security threats would occur. This now requires a much higher level of engagement from employees and people working in those sectors. Will he take steps to ensure that the industries where there are real threats are carried with us in this important regard?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, we are investing in cyber-security. He is right to say that this is now an extremely important issue for many sectors of British industry, as well as for the Government, that complicates matters and gives rise to the need for more actions now. There are myriad circumstances in which national security may be compromised by certain material. Some of the simpler ones arise because the identity of informants might be revealed. In others, the existence of some particular technology of which the other side is blissfully unaware will be revealed if one starts putting in one’s intelligence material. It is just as important to national security that those who are not friends of this country should not always know the capacity of the intelligence services in these cases. That is why the growing problem of cyber-security is a particular reason for strengthening our procedures and strengthening their supervision by this House.