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Intelligence and Security Committee: Annual Report 2019-21

Volume 705: debated on Friday 10 December 2021

The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament has today laid before Parliament a report covering the work of the Committee between July 2019 to July 2021. The Government welcome the independent and robust oversight of the security and intelligence agencies and the wider intelligence community that the Committee provides. As this report demonstrates, the work of the Committee is wide-ranging, on topics vital to ensuring the public can have confidence that our world-class intelligence agencies continue to operate effectively and proportionately in light of the threats we face.

The period covered in this report has been a particularly challenging one, and it is a testament to the Committee that it has been able to provide oversight despite disruption to its work plan from the pandemic. The Government look forward to seeing the conclusions of a number of ongoing Committee inquiries.

The agencies and wider intelligence community value the oversight the Committee provides and have ensured Committee requests in this period have been given high importance. However, it is proper and right that agency and intelligence community resources continue to be appropriately prioritised to ensure the safety and security of our nation; the agencies have shown both resilience and ingenuity in continuing to deliver despite the challenges this period has brought. the intelligence community and Government were in touch with the Committee during the drafting of this report, and would remind the Committee of the importance of mutually agreeing timelines for returns to ensure these are reasonable and achievable.

During the period covered by the Committee’s report, the Government have published three formal responses to ISC reports, which address the recommendations and conclusions the Committee have made: Russia, published on 21 July 2020; Northern Ireland-related Terrorism, published 11 February 2021; and GCHQ Procurement: A Case Study, published 22 July 2021.

The Government remain confident that the current memorandum of understanding with the Committee is sufficient to allow for robust oversight of the agencies and wider intelligence community. The National Security Adviser has written to the ISC Chair to restate this position.

I would like to again thank the Committee for its work, and I look forward to working with it as it continues its vital oversight duties.