[Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing): I call the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee, Dr Julian Lewis.]
Dr Julian Lewis: May I start by apologising to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and to the House for the fact that I will not be able to stay for the remainder of the statement, as I would normally wish to do?
I congratulate my right hon. Friend again on his new responsibilities. I remind him that, in 2013, extensive new legislation gave considerably greater powers to the intelligence and security agencies. In return for that, an understanding was reached – and there was a memorandum of understanding – between the Prime Minister and the Intelligence and Security Committee that we would have oversight of the various agencies that had improved and increased powers; and that, as the situation changes, we would continue to have oversight of new organisations of the sort that he is announcing today. Will he confirm that the elements of the taskforce’s activities that involve, for scrutiny, access to classified information will fall under the purview of the Intelligence and Security Committee; and that he will break the bad practice that was brought in by the last but one Prime Minister of farming such matters out to ordinary parliamentary Select Committees, which, with the best will in the world, cannot conduct the scrutiny properly because they lack the secure facilities and suitably cleared staff?
[The Minister for Security (Tom Tugendhat): I thank the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee, who knows well the importance that I place on Committees. I merely challenge him on one small aspect: there is no such thing as an ordinary Committee in this House. All of them are select and are selected by the House for the purposes that they have been asked to investigate. I make absolutely clear my commitment to work with his Committee and the Committees of others, as relevant, to ensure that the necessary democratic oversight of Government is complete.]