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Security Services

Volume 718: debated on Tuesday 9 March 2010


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider proposals for self-discipline and accountability by the United Kingdom security services in their activities at home and abroad. [HL2401]

The Government take accountability of the agencies seriously and keep it under review.

Accountability for the intelligence and security agencies is provided by their governing legislation—namely, the Security Service Act 1989 for the Security Service (MI5), and the Intelligence Services Act 1994 for the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6) and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). These place the agencies under the authority of the relevant Secretary of State and set out their functions. The Acts place duties on the head of agency on the obtaining and disclosure of information, on ensuring that the agency takes no action to further the interests of any political party and on reporting.

Additionally, the Intelligence Services Act provides for oversight of the agencies by the Intelligence and Security Committee.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 governs agency use of covert investigatory techniques. Additionally, the Act provides for the Intelligence Services Commissioner and the Interception of Communications Commissioner to keep under review the relevant aspects of agency work. It also provides for the Investigatory Powers Tribunal to determine complaints on the conduct of the agencies.