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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I join other Members of your Lordships' House in repudiating trial by denunciation. I think that it is quite wrong and I have made that clear. The Government hold firmly to that view. Of course, it must be for the ISC to draw its own conclusions. Those conclusions will be shaped and framed by input from Members in another place and no doubt from Members of your Lordships' House and from elsewhere. Clearly, the committee will
Lord Merlyn-Rees : My Lords, is the Mitrokhin/Andrew book the only material to be considered by the Intelligence and Security Committee? Will the Minister ensure that that is made freely available in the Library in order that we may read it? I am particularly interested in the Agee and Hosenbal case, for which I was responsible when I was the Home Secretary. It was the first matter to appear on my desk on the day I took up my appointment. Parliament was heavily involved in that material. I am advised that the Agee and Hosenbal case is dealt with in this book--or at least in the material. The case was discussed in Parliament and the material should now be made freely available.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his comments. I return to the Statement made by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary in another place. With the agreement of the Prime Minister, he announced on 13th September that the Intelligence and Security Committee was to be asked to conduct an inquiry into the policies and procedures used by the intelligence and security agencies in the handling of the Mitrokhin material. That provides sufficient scope for a wide-ranging consideration of all the issues the noble Lord raised in his earlier comments.
As to The Mitrokhin Archive, I can reveal--it is no great secret--that I have a copy. It consists of 1,000 pages and there are but six references in it to Melita Norwood. In my humble opinion, it is not the best of bedtime reading. I would far prefer to cuddle up in bed with a cup of cocoa and a Ruth Rendell. The Mitrokhin Archive is not at the top of my Christmas book list.
Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, I wish to make three points. First, I have the impression from the Statement--I was very pleased to hear it--that there had been perfectly accountable behaviour by both services in terms of keeping the relevant Ministers informed. Secondly--I think that the noble Lord, Lord McNally, will agree--it is not very likely that Mitrokhin would have come to us, as Penkovsky did at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, if he had not felt that he would be given total protection and total secrecy. That is where, unfortunately, the need for professional services comes in. It has nothing to do with the honour and integrity of members of Select Committees; it is to do with training and the trust that needs to exist in the mind of a potential source who is about to risk his life. That is one reason why I fear it will always be difficult to be very much more open than the services are at present.
The noble Baroness is quite right to say that we must treat Mr Mitrokhin with care. We should be very grateful to him for the work that he carried out. As my right honourable friend the Home Secretary said, he was very brave and we owe him a great deal. The noble Baroness is also right that anything we say in public may well be used by our enemies elsewhere. We need to be careful and mindful of that.
Lord Monkswell: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for repeating the Statement. I listened to it with great interest. I thought it curious that the original Mitrokhin archive appears to remain the private property of Mr Mitrokhin. A number of questions arise from that, although I readily accept that the Minister may not be able to answer them directly.
First, what other resources of the secret services are effectively the private property of individuals who are not under the control of the Official Secrets Act? Secondly, why did not the secret services simply buy the Mitrokhin archive from him, thereby ensuring that it was their property, to deal with as they saw fit? Thirdly, was the reason that the secret services did not have enough money to buy it? I appreciate that the Minister may not be able to answer my questions directly, but they should be considered.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Lord asked an interesting question and raised an interesting point. The fact remains, however, that the Mitrokhin archive is the Mitrokhin archive; it is his property. It is for Mr Mitrokhin to use or dispose of the Mitrokhin archive as he wishes. He created the archive; it his personal property. I can assure the noble Lord with honesty and integrity that, as far as I am aware, no other material has been made available to Mr Mitrokhin or Professor Andrew in the creation of the book.
Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, perhaps I may ask the noble Lord two questions. First, following on from what was said by my noble friend Lord Wallace of Saltaire, both security organisations have had the habit of leaking information to a handful of journalists. This has gone on for many years. In many cases it has had a most destructive effect on relations with other organisations within the criminal justice area. Will the Minister draw the comments of my
Secondly, it would be unwise for us to become involved in exposing particular individuals as alleged spies by name. Were we to do so, if criminal proceedings were to be considered it would be very difficult to ensure that relevant matters came before a court because of the amount of pre-trial damage which might be caused to an individual's reputation.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the final point of the noble Lord, Lord Harris, is obviously very important. He is quite right; I agree completely with his comments. The noble Lord asked that I pass on the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, to the ISC. Those comments are of course publicly recorded in Hansard and I am sure that he will not hesitate to draw them to the attention of the ISC. It would be quite in order and quite proper to do so. His comments were wisely made.
Lord Borrie: My Lords, does my noble friend disagree with one point made by the noble Lord, Lord McNally; namely, that, because the ideological war against Soviet Communism is past and has been won, that in some way should be a significant point in determining against any prosecution? If there is usable evidence--whether it be from the archive or from admissions and confessions made by individuals subsequent to the publication of the archive--which reveals what may be very serious consequences following on betrayal, that should be a reason for prosecution rather than the opposite, which was the point made by the noble Lord, Lord McNally.
Lord Bassam: My Lords I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Borrie, for his comments. However, I must decline to comment one way or the other on whether it is right or proper to prosecute. As I said, prosecutions are a matter for the prosecuting authorities. It is their responsibility alone. It cannot be for others to urge or encourage prosecutions. The prosecuting authorities are properly charged with that responsibility.
Lord Gilbert: My Lords, I am provoked by some of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord McNally, to say a word on the question of the responsibility and supervision of the Intelligence and Security Committee. I have served on four Select Committees in the other place; I was intimately concerned with the legislation drawn up to establish the Intelligence and Security Committee; and I served on the committee for the whole of the last Parliament. I started out as something of a sceptic in regard to those arrangements. There are clear distinctions between the powers of a Select Committee and the powers of the Intelligence and Security Committee.
I should also like to say that, having served on that committee for some two-and-a-half years, I was totally converted to the powers and functions of that committee as it exists, and it was certainly my
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