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I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman was making this point, but I want to reiterate clearly for the benefit of the House and the record the fact that there is absolutely no suggestion that my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting was the target of the surveillance or that there was any suspicion at all that my hon. Friend should have been the target of the surveillance. The report makes it absolutely clear, for example, that reports of the monitoring were filed and that it was decided to take no further action. My hon. Friend was
not the target, and nor should there be any suggestion that any cloud rests over him. Sir Christopher Rose is absolutely clear on that point, and we should all be clear about it, too.
Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): I thank the Home Secretary for her statement, for the speed with which the Government set up the inquiry and for the conclusions that have been put before the House, which, of course, I accept. I welcome the review that she proposes. Will she give us a timetable for when that review will be completed and tell us who will conduct it? On the subject of my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting (Mr. Khan), will she confirm that the report makes it very clear that when he was visited on 8 March 2005 by the pre-assessment police officer he was affable, forthcoming and fully co-operative and that all the visits he made subsequent to that were as a Member of Parliament? Will he be getting a copy of either the tapes or the transcripts?
Jacqui Smith: On my right hon. Friends first point, I am proposing not a review but action to amend the codes. That amendment will require detailed consultation with the relevant public authorities and, of course, it will also require public consultation and the opportunity for debate in this House. I intend that all that work will be completed within this calendar year.
On my right hon. Friends point about our hon. Friend the Member for Tooting, it might help my right hon. Friend if I read from paragraph 22 of Sir Christopher Roses report, which concerns the visit that was made by a detective constable from the Metropolitan police special branch to complete an inquiry questionnaire for the benefit of the prison and a report for the police at the point at which my hon. Friend was applying to become an approved visitor, before he was a Member of Parliament. It states:
It is apparent from these documents that Mr Khan told the officer that he had given up his full-time job as a human rights lawyer with his own company to become a prospective Labour Parliamentary candidate for Tooting.
The officer commented in his report that Mr Khan was very affable and forthcoming.
To investigate the circumstances relating to the visits to Babar Ahmad.
First, on the Wilson doctrine, I acknowledge what the Secretary of State said about its not applying in this case, but I welcome the fact that the codes of practice will be reviewed. Clearly, we need that clarification as the chief surveillance commissioner has made it clear that in his view it is unsustainable in its present form.
The report has been turned around extremely rapidly, within only a couple of weeks, yet during that time Sir Christopher managed to assess that routine bugging has not taken place. Some Members will find it astonishing to have achieved that within those time scales, so I hope that the Home Secretary will consider, as the Law Society suggested, that it may be appropriate to hold an inquiry into whether much larger scale bugging is indeed taking place.
On the hon. Member for Tooting (Mr. Khan), and who knew what and when, there is useful clarification. The Home Secretary has said on a number of occasions that the hon. Gentleman was not the target of surveillance, but Sir Christopher Roses report says that junior officers were aware that Mr. Babar Ahmads prison friend was a Member of Parliament, so could the Home Secretary confirm whether additional guidance will be given to officers in that respect and how that guidance, once implemented, will be monitored?
The astonishingly rapid turnaround of the report on the bugging of conversations between the hon. Member for Tooting and Mr. Ahmad addresses some of the concerns raised by the incident but leaves up in the air the whole question of whether we are moving towards an ever more intrusive surveillance society in which nothing is private and everything is analysed, recorded, logged and stored. That is a question the Liberal Democrats will pursue relentlessly.
Jacqui Smith: In relation to the hon. Gentlemans penultimate point, it is precisely because I feel that the guidance, and in fact the statutory codes of practice, relating to RIPA should clarify the position with respect to those who review and monitor and authorise any conversations that might involve a constituency MP on constituency business that I have announced and propose today that we should amend the codes.
On the hon. Gentlemans first point, about the Wilson doctrine, he referred to the view of the then interception of communications commissioner that there was potentially no longer a place for the doctrine. That point was fully responded to in a written ministerial statement on 30 March 2006 by the previous Prime Minister, who concluded at that time that the Wilson doctrine should be maintained. That position was subsequently confirmed by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
Sometimes, I feel we cannot win. I have read the transcript of the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice, when Members urged speed on him, me and Sir Christopher Rose. Sir Christopher Rose carried out the inquiry speedily and effectively. In fact, he has slightly broadened the terms of reference in order precisely to take in the concerns about legal privilege that have been outlined and, as I have noted today, his report was clear. He said:
I know nothing to suggest that any unauthorised directed surveillance has taken place in relation to legal visits to such prisoners during the period to which my investigation relates.
Although this is not within my Terms of Reference, I understand from further enquiries which I have made that, since 2005 at least, there have been no authorities for directed
surveillance of legal visits in prisons in England and Wales to prisoners in custody in relation to terrorist or other criminal matters.
I reiterate what I said in my statement: the Government set up the Investigatory Powers Tribunal precisely to investigate concerns about the way investigatory powers were being used, and I recommend any Member or member of the public with concerns about the use of those powers to refer them to the tribunal.
Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab): I commend the Home Secretary for a speedy response to the case and an appropriate and measured reply. I listened carefully to what she said about the Wilson doctrine, but of course it was established at a time when we did not have directly elected Members of the European Parliament or of the Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly. When we review the issue, will my right hon. Friend clarify whether any of those privileges apply to those office holders?
Jacqui Smith: It has subsequently been confirmed that the Wilson doctrine does not apply to those office holders. However, I confirm that it is my intention that the work to extend the scope of the definition of confidential information in the codes of practice will explicitly include constituency work by MPs, and that it will extend to Members of the European Parliament and of the Welsh devolved Administration. Before anybody asks, extension of that kind in Scotland and Northern Ireland would be a matter for their devolved Administrations to take forward in parallel.
Andrew Selous (South-West Bedfordshire) (Con): My constituent, the retired detective referred to as X, is surprised that Sir Christopher Rose did not ask him to co-operate. He, above all, wants a fair trial; he offered his co-operation and does not know why it was not sought. Both he and the journalist with whom he is charged with aiding and abetting an offence in public office are concerned for their safety and, because of the range of activities at Woodhill prison of which they are aware, they are also concerned that there may be an attempt to silence them. Will the Home Secretary comment on that aspect?
Jacqui Smith: I am sure the hon. Gentleman will realise that I shall not comment in detail on an ongoing court case. Sir Christopher Roses report, as I have already pointed out, makes clear in paragraph 10 the process he undertook with respect to the hon. Gentlemans constituent.
Dr. Phyllis Starkey (Milton Keynes, South-West) (Lab):
When the issue was first raised in the House, I expressed my concern, as the MP representing Woodhill and many of the staff who work there, about the uncertainty that might be caused if the inquiry dragged on, so I am extremely pleased that Sir Christopher Rose has so effectively and thoroughly completed the inquiry in a short time. I urge the Home Secretary to resist strenuously any spurious Mohammed al-Fayed-type allegations that may cause the case to be dragged out endlessly by all sorts of conspiracy theories. Will she clarify whether the new guidelines will refer to prison staff as well as police officers and others and, if so, will she make sure that
they are as clear as possible so that prison staff can concentrate on their important job of protecting us all and are not worried by unclear guidelines about what they may or may not do?
Jacqui Smith: Yes, I can confirm to my hon. Friend that the statutory code of practice that will relate to covert surveillance will include all those involved in the review, monitoring or authorisation of covert surveillance. I agree that it is important that the review was carried out quickly, not least for those who are clearly working hard in Her Majestys Prison Woodhill.
Mr. Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (LD): Does the Home Secretary agree that the Wilson doctrine is often misunderstood as though it meant that a Member of Parliament is totally immune from the interception of communications even if engaged in serious crime or aiding and abetting terrorism? What the doctrine actually means is that such an exceptional interception would require the highest level of authority and would subsequently have to be disclosed to the House of Commons. Is that not a good principle for the protection of constituents and others, and one that should rightly be extended to directed surveillance?
Jacqui Smith: The right hon. Gentleman is right about the amendment I propose to the statutory codes of practice with respect to covert surveillance. The law already says, with respect to confidential information, that there is not a blanket prohibition on the monitoring of a conversation that might involve confidential information. As he rightly says, any surveillance would need to be in exceptional and compelling circumstances and would, therefore, need much higher levels of authorisation.
Anne Snelgrove (South Swindon) (Lab): My right hon. Friend has given some important and welcome reassurances on the surveillance of legally privileged conversations, but there have been widespread media speculations about the recording of lawyers conversations, and attempts to found those speculations have been heard in the House today. Will she confirm that it is not the case that such conversations are recorded?
there have been no authorities for directed surveillance of legal visits in prisons in England and Wales.
I know nothing to suggest that any unauthorised directed surveillance has taken place in relation to legal visits.
It is clearly important that strong regulation is in place in both the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and the codes of practice. I reiterate that rather than talking to newspapers, it is probably more useful for people with concerns about such issues to take them up with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which the Government set up precisely in order to ensure confidence about how the powers are used.
Mr. Michael Mates (East Hampshire) (Con):
While the Home Secretary is undoubtedly right that the Wilson doctrine was not violated in the case that we are
discussing, has it not shown that there is an illogicality in the fact that such an event is not covered by the Wilson doctrine, probably quite inadvertently? As the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) just said, it is quite clear that MPs should not and must not be immune from any form of surveillance if they are suspected of serious crime and such surveillance is properly warranted. In making the changes to procedure that she has announced, will the Home Secretary make it the case that the Wilson doctrine will apply to surveillance on Members of Parliament by the police rather than the security services, so that eventually, at a time when national security allows, it can be reported to the House?
Jacqui Smith: It is interesting that hon. Members have suggested at points in the past that the Wilson doctrine is limited in its application. It nevertheless remains in place, and its scope is as I described in my statement. Arguably, what I am proposing in terms of statutory codes of practice open to public debate and scrutiny in Parliament will put the issue of covert surveillance on a clear statutory basis, which will provide the sort of clarification for which the right hon. Gentleman asks.
Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): Before I came to Parliament, I assumed that the Wilson doctrine meant that all Members who took the Oath of office were free from surveillance. That is clearly not the case, although there may be a high hurdle to overcome. Will the Home Secretary tell us how many MPs have suffered surveillance in the past 10 years?
Hugh Robertson (Faversham and Mid-Kent) (Con):
During her statement, the Home Secretary said that none of the senior officers responsible for authorising the surveillance knew at the time that the Sadiq Khan listed as a friend was a Member of Parliament. Given the serious nature of the issues involved, including national security, and the fact that being a Member of
Parliament is not notoriously a particularly covert occupation, is that not in itself a cause for genuine concern?
Jacqui Smith: The hon. Gentleman can interpret that however he wants, but Sir Christopher Rose found and is clear that those senior police officers did not know at the point when they authorised the surveillance that my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting was a Member of Parliament.
Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): Given that foreign intelligence agencies fall outside the Wilson doctrine and existing and future codes of conduct, will the Home Secretary give the House an assurance that during the past 10 years, no British Minister, especially in the Ministry of Defence, has been bugged by a foreign intelligence agencyparticularly the French intelligence agencyin relation to Ministry of Defence procurement contracts?
David Howarth (Cambridge) (LD): Whatever the results of the inquiry, and whether or not the hon. Member for Tooting (Mr. Khan) was targeted by the operation, is not the alarming conclusion to draw from the report that under the existing arrangements, it was at least possible for a Member of Parliament to be targeted? In the changes that the Home Secretary is to make to the codes of practice, should it not be a principle that, in law, it should not be possible for the police to use their powers in a political way, to gather information on politicians whom they might consider to be their political opponents?
Mr. Shailesh Vara (North-West Cambridgeshire) (Con): Following the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone), will the Home Secretary be a bit more specific about whether in the past 10 years any other Member of Parliament has been bugged, either because they were the target of the bugging, or because someone else was the target, but they happened to be part of the conversation?
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband): With your permission, Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like to make a statement on US rendition operations. On 12 December 2005, in response to a parliamentary question from the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell), my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), then Foreign Secretary, updated the House on the subject of terrorist suspects and rendition, stating:
Careful research by officials has been unable to identify any occasion since 11 September 2001, or earlier in the Bush administration, when we received a request for permission by the United States...for a rendition through UK territory or airspace, nor are we otherwise aware of such a case.[ Official Report, 12 December 2005; Vol. 440, c. 1652W.]
In March 2007, the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, gave an assurance to the Intelligence and Security Committee that he was satisfied that the US had at no time since 9/11 rendered an individual through the UK or through our overseas territories. In its report on rendition of 28 June 2007, the ISC said:
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