HC Deb 15 February 1989 vol 147 cc419-41
Mr. Foot

In our debates on the Bill the Home Secretary has often claimed that the measure is restrictive and does not extend the area to which the consequences of the Official Secrets Act or other legislation of this type apply. Many hon. Members contest that view and believe that there are many other features of the Bill by which the Government are enlarging rather than reducing the operation of the Official Secrets Act. We do not say that there is no area where it is not reduced, but parts of the Bill introduced areas in which the Act has not previously operated.

Mr. Hurd

indicated dissent.

Mr. Foot

I will not go over some of the previous debates in which we have expressed our belief that the Government are extending the areas to which the Official Secrets Act may be applied. We think we have proved our case, for it has not been rejected by any substantial argument to the contrary by the Government. That has applied to our debates on confidentiality and other matters.

There cannot be any doubt but that by this part of the Bill, which the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) wants to amend, the area of operation is being extended.

Mr. Hurd

indicated dissent.

Mr. Foot

The right hon. Gentleman disagrees. He will have an opportunity to make his case.

Before the introduction of this measure, if an offence occurred in relations with our allies in terms of leakages of confidential or other information in negotiations in the Common Market, the Official Secrets Act could not be applied. By this clause, the Home Secretary is extending the operation of the Act, and the term "international organisation" is extremely wide.

By his intelligent amendment, the hon. Member for Southend, East is seeking to make at any rate this part of the Bill absolutely clear and to get any issue concerning our relations with the EEC—be it the Commission or other Common Market body—excluded from the operation of the Official Secrets Act.

If the Home Secretary claims, "We may still wish to look at our relations with the Commission or the Council and at how we are operating, and see that some restrictions are applied," he should take that step under separate legislation. It should be introduced under a suitable part of one of the Acts that the EEC occasionally introduces to cover our relations with the European Community. Some of us were bitterly opposed to the Single European Act, but if there is to be an alteration in the way in which discussions should take place with other European countries, it should be done under that form of legislation.

I hope that the Home Secretary will be willing to accept the amendment and others. I hope that he will consider afresh the ideas of incorporating in official secrets legislation some changes in relations between this Parliament and European organisations. The matter has been widely discussed in Parliament over many years. Every time we have had a debate there have been strong differences. I can understand what would have happened at the time of the Single European Act or, before that, the legislation which took us into the Common Market if there had been proposals to introduce official secrets provisions. Many of us would have argued strongly against their inclusion. All the greater is the reason why the provisions should not be incorporated in a Bill of this character. The amendment would ensure that there would not be any doubt about the matter.

I have listened to the whole of the debate today, as I have listened to almost all the other debates on the Bill. The Home Secretary seems to take it amiss when I and others say that the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General should be present at these debates. When I put that to him a little while ago, he shook his head and said that I knew how these matters were dealt with. I do know. When I was Leader of the House, many representations were made to me and to those responsible for Government business about Law Officers being in attendance at debates. It is a good idea.

The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) has made the point several times that the Attorney-General will have considerable powers under the Bill. He will have fresh powers under this clause. I am not saying this against the present Attorney-General, but Attorneys-General have to be watched with suspicion. In the 18th century the Attorneys-General and the Law Officers were regarded often as the most corrupt members of the Administration. I am not saying that the same has applied recently. I do not use rough words like "corrupt" which the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) uses so readily and so aptly, but I do not wish to detract from the force of his intervention the other day. I note that the Home Secretary does not disagree with what his right hon. Friend says on these matters.

The Attorney-General will have many powers under the Bill. In some respects it is right that his powers should be limited. In some spheres they will be limited and in others they will be extended. They will be extended under clause 3. The choice as to whether there should be prosecutions will be enlarged. There have been modern examples from 20 or 30 years ago when the future of a Government has depended on whether a prosecution was brought by an Attorney-General. It happened in the case of the Labour Government of 1923. That Government fell because of the dispute in this House about the way in which an Attorney-General had sought to use his powers. These things can happen. I have seen many examples in more recent times, although I will not specify them, because that might be too tender for some.

10.45 pm
Mr. Budgen

Was it not the exercise of the discretion of Sir Patrick Hastings, who was then Attorney-General, in the case of Mr. Campbell that led to the fall of that Government? I think I am right in saying that the question was whether proceedings should be instituted against a person who had Left-wing sympathies. Much controversy arose as a result of the Attorney-General's decision in that case.

Mr. Foot

Indeed, that is the case to which I was referring. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. The Labour Government of 1923–24 fell primarily because of opposition in this House to the way in which the Attorney-General had used his authority. There was a great dispute about whether he had allowed his political sympathies to influence the way in which he used that authority. The hon. Gentleman is quite right in what he has said in all his interventions.

Of course, there will be suspicions about the way in which the Attorney-General may use his powers, particularly if they are not so carefully defined as they might be. The hon. Gentleman is right also in saying that if Parliament does not provide a proper definition in legislation, the position of the Attorney-General is in some cases made the more invidious.

I can remember quite a few other cases over the past 20 or 30 years in which the position of the Attorney-General in respect of his advice in particular cases may have been of supreme political moment. In those circumstances, the Attorney-General often has a difficult choice to make. He has to take into account some of his political associations and the fact that he is a member of a Government. But he has to take account also of all these other questions.

In the interests of the Attorney-General, and to make the Bill effective, these matters must be defined as carefully as possible. But much will still be left to the versatility or the discretion of the Attorney-General. One cannot escape that, but, by providing proper definitions, one can limit the difficulty arising from such a state of affairs.

I come back to the Leader of the House—although, again, he has not troubled to attend this debate, I am sorry to say. He forced the guillotine, but he has not come along to listen to what is happening, and I think that is quite wrong. I am not in any way denigrating the way in which he makes his speeches, or anything like that, but there have been serious differences between the powerful arguments from both sides of the Committee and the replies from members of the Government Front Bench, whether from the Minister of State or from the Secretary of State himself.

We are told that this is the advice the Government have received on these legal questions. Those are almost the words that the Home Secretary used on two or three occasions. But that is not good enough; we are entitled to hear the Attorney-General himself speak to us on these matters.

I see that the Leader of the House is making one of his rare visits to the Chamber. We are glad to welcome him. I was referring to him a few minutes ago, and I am glad that my words reached him so swiftly. I hope that every time I summon him he will come so quickly. I only hope that he will take my message back via the Minister who is in charge of the Bill. We ought to have the Law Officers in attendance during these debates, partly because many matters are left to the discretion of the Attorney-General, and partly because we are discussing the whole question of when prosecutions will be brought, even if the Attorney-General will not himself make the final decision about such matters.

The case that the right hon. Gentleman has been making to us throughout the debate is, "We are reserving the power. It is going to be used intelligently. You don't have to worry too much if the Bill does not have the right words." To have those debates without the Law Officers being here to answer for the advice that they have given to the Cabinet is wrong. I do not say that because I have any great faith in Law Officers, or in judges. The judges are not very fine. Often they make great mistakes on many of these matters. One reason why we have to deal with the Bill now is that we cannot trust them.

Curiously enough, although it is a strange thing to say, having listened to the previous two or three debates, I have much more faith in the wisdom of the House of Commons than I have in those other bodies. There is much more common sense here, if only it could he released. The Home Secretary has plenty of common sense, if only he did not come to the Committee with his hands tied. If he came prepared to listen to what we had to say and to use his discretion about whether to accept an amendment, there would be an entirely different atmosphere. If the right hon. Gentleman had tried to deal with the Bill on that basis, we could have had an Official Secrets Act that would have been capable of standing up for quite a number of years. As it is, we shall have a complete abortion.

The right hon. Gentleman is about the most persuasive member of the Government Front Bench, but on all the occasions that he has risen to speak, he has been unable to persuade the Committee. Not once has he been able to meet the case made, not merely by Opposition Members, but by Tory Members. That is a travesty of discussion here, and I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman has not approached the matter in an entirely different spirit.

However, there is always the eleventh hour. The right hon. Gentleman can still come back and say that he will make a concession to his hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East. He will not do that for any of his other hon. Friends, because they are miscreants. They have been voting against him whenever they have had the chance over the past few days, and all honour to them. I know how difficult it can be constantly to oppose one's party in the House of Commons. That is not at all easy. The hon. Members for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) and for Thanet, South (Mr. Aitken) and others have shown themselves to be truly honourable Members of the House, deserving great credit from the country for the way in which they have presented their case. They have presented it so well that they have caused deep offence to the Government.

However, the latest recruit is a youngster. He has not voted against the Government for at least the last three weeks. He comes along with a clean sheet to make his appeal to the Home Secretary, and if the right hon. Gentleman cannot respond to that he has no heart left in his body.

Sir Ian Gilmour

In his interesting speech earlier this evening, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary put his finger on what was wrong with the Bill. It is clear that he is comparing the Bill with the present legislation as though that legislation were fully operative. If it were, we would all agree that the Bill was a great improvement upon it, but we all know perfectly well that the great virtue of the present legislation is the fact that it is inoperative. In many respects—this is relevant to the new offence point—the Bill is inferior to what we have already because the Government are incapable of using it.

I agree with much of what my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) said, although I do not share his views on the EEC. It is clear to me that clause 3 is far too wide and goes much too far in at least three respects.

I want to deal with the extraordinary approach to foreign affairs that is exhibited in the Bill. The clause would be fully appropriate to the days of the congress of Vienna and the Holy Alliance, when foreign affairs were purely a matter for the elite—a few people sitting about in drawing rooms—when the press would have been prosecuted even more than they will be under this Bill and the public were not concerned with foreign affairs at all. That is the approach to foreign affairs reflected in clause 3.

Have the Government ever heard of Woodrow Wilson, or does our history begin only with Harold Wilson? It probably does. The ideal of Woodrow Wilson was open covenants, openly arrived at. That is utopian—there has to be secret diplomacy—but the idea of returning to the idea that almost any revelation or disclosure is wrong and will be damaging is absurd. It does the Government no credit to seek to hark back to foreign affairs as though they were a recondite matter. My right hon. Friend and I have served together in the Foreign Office and we know that most things are not secret, although some are. To try to make foreign affairs a closed conspiracy is ridiculous.

That is a general point. The particular point is in the words: any … article relating to international relations". That covers an enormous area. Clause 3(5) refers to "international organisations" but does not define them beyond describing them as "international organisations". Clause 3(2) says that a disclosure is "damaging" if it jeopardises the interests of the United Kingdom abroad". I agree with clause 3(2) when it says: or endangers the safety of British citizens abroad". That is perfectly specific and we would all agree with that, but what are the interests of the United Kingdom abroad?

In winding up the earlier debate, my hon. Friend the Minister said that one could define the public interest in terms of jeopardising it. That seems to be a non sequitur. What are the interests of the United Kingdom abroad? Does the clause mean the Government's interests? The definition is far too wide and reflects an attitude to foreign affairs that is wholly absurd. The great virtue is that, if the Government bring prosecutions under the clause, no sensible jury will have any hesitation in acquitting. I hope that the Government will try to make the clause slightly less absurd by accepting amendment No. 24.

Mr. Budgen

It is all very well saying, as in general I do, that the great safeguard of the Bill is that a jury will exercise its right to disregard what the judge says and to acquit even against the judge's summing up and the evidence, but that is a dangerous safeguard. It is an ultimate safeguard in our constitution, but it means that a jury would be saying that in a particular instance it intended to disregard what the legislature and the laws said. That is not something for which we should legislate lightly.

Sir Ian Gilmour

I agree. Clause 3 would be subject to the same ridicule as the current legislation, so one can fairly argue that we might as well have the present ridiculous legislation rather than new ridiculous legislation. I was merely expressing the pious hope that if the Bill is passed unamended juries will have the common sense to make it rather less silly than it is.

Mr. Budgen

It is all very well to have the occasional trial, such as that of Mr. Ponting, in which the judge plainly tells the jury that its duty under the law is to convict, but if almost everybody charged with an offence under the Bill is acquitted because the jury exercises its constitutional right, that is an attack on the rule of law. That is a serious matter, and that is why it is important that we try to make the Bill tighter, more specific and not too much subject to the discretion of the Attorney-General.

11 pm

Mr. Maclennan

It is a novel experience to find myself on the same side of an argument as the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor). Since the occasion about 40 years ago when we stalemated each other at chess as schoolboys, we have been on opposite sides of the table. Although I do not share the hon. Gentleman's views about the Community, on this occasion he has put his finger on an extremely important aspect of the Bill. The Home Secretary owes the Committee a detailed explanation of the hon. Gentleman's points.

Although I have never shared the Home Secretary's view of the Bill, he has sought to present it as a narrowing of the criminal law in relation to official secrets. He has tried to argue that he is removing from the ambit of the criminal law large sections of our public administration. However, by including in this clause the reference to "international organisations" and confidential information obtained from them—as the Bill stands, that must include the European Community—he is bringing back, by the back door, the criminal law's coverage of wide areas of public administration that would otherwise be exempted from the criminal law.

The European Community now touches many aspects of our lives. One does not need to accept President Delors's view about the way it is going to recognise that agreements within the European Community touch on matters that do not seem in any way to fall within the other heads of importance contained in the Bill. One can refer, for example, to the question that has been much discussed in recent weeks—food safety. That has been very much a domestic issue, but it is extraordinary that revelations about the attitude of the French Government to possible retaliation against the British Government for their behaviour in respect of soft cheeses could be described as damaging in such a way that the criminal law should be invoked to protect Britain's interests.

I dissented slightly from the view that was expressed in more than one intervention that this clause widens the ambit of the criminal law beyond the Official Secrets Act, which the Bill replaces, but it certainly widens it a great deal beyond what the Home Secretary has sought to present it as doing. The Home Secretary referred to the six areas in which it is right to invoke the criminal law and sought to present them as relatively narrowly defined. He must understand that clause 3 is a catch-all clause that enables the threat of criminal prosecution to be waved over the heads of officials who are in any way connected with the international discussion of matters that are domestic within the European Community.

I hope that he will—

Mr. Greg Knight

Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House why it is sensible to exclude all European Community information? Can he also deal with the point that I raised with my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) about when the European Community is conducting trade negotiations involving a country or countries outside the Community. Surely, in such cases, Britain's interests could be damaged.

Mr. Maclennan

Yes, it is perfectly possible that Britain's interests could be damaged, but the question is not whether they could be damaged but whether we require the criminal law to protect us from that potential damage. However, I do not think that the amendments are necessarily precisely the right ones to deal with the argument that I am advancing.

Mr. Hind

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Maclennan

I shall complete my argument, because I think it is important.

There is a clear distinction to be drawn between our membership of the European Community and our membership of other international organisations. The European Community is part of our legislative process. If it is right that we should exclude from the ambit of our criminal law domestic agriculture matters, for example—that is an argument that the Home Secretary has advanced—why should such issues suddenly become protected by the criminal law if they are being discussed and decided within the organs of the European Community? That concept does not lie squarely with the Home Secretary's argument, which is that the Community should be regarded and included as an international organisation for the purposes of the Bill.

Our relations within the European Community are no longer international. Instead, they are essentially domestic. The treaty which we signed and acceded to has made us part of a decision-making process which is superior even to the processes of the House. I appreciate that there may be some problems in distinguishing between the European Community's activities that involve third countries and those that concern the United Kingdom, but when it comes to internal Community matters it seems that the Home Secretary should exclude those from the scope of the criminal law by means of the Bill. I hope that he will find it possible to agree that that is something that he will wish to consider as the Bill proceeds through this place and another place. As things stand, it seems that he has blown a gaping hole in his argument that the scope of the Official Secrets Act 1911 is narrowly being reduced as a result of his failure to exclude the European Communities.

Mr. Hurd

I agree that we are considering an important set of amendments. I say to the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) and to my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) that nothing in the clause creates a new offence, nothing in it adds to the discretion of the prosecuting authorities, and nothing in it is not covered by section 2. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Sir I. Gilmour) tacitly conceded that by saying that a dead Act was better than a Bill of this sort.

The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan)—

Mr. Richard Shepherd

That goes to the heart of the matter. An argument resides in the fact that information received from sources abroad and given to journalists—clause 3 must be read in conjunction with clause 5, involving others who might be affected—might lead to the possibility of an offence. Information that is given—leaked or otherwise—in confidence from another organisation to our own organisation and to newspapers, could give rise to an offence, although that, of course, is not the issue at the moment.

Secondly, we have added international organisations, which are undefined. I understood my right hon. Friend to say that this addition does not give rise to any new offences.

Mr. Hurd

I do not believe that it does. The matters covered by the clause are covered by section 2, but my right hon. Friend is right to say—this is part of the criticism of section 2—that it is difficult to have effective prosecutions under section 2 because, as has often been said, it is too wide and too weak.

There is a principle here which may well be as old as the congress of Vienna. I am not disputing that, but there is still some validity in the proposal. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham recalled our service together at the Foreign Office. I recall that he had a rather traditional view of these matters at that time, although I may be wrong. The traditional view in this respect is that our ability to exchange information in confidence with other countries and international organisations is fundamental to effective international relations. We need those relations and there is an element of trust. If we break the trust upon which international exchanges are often conducted, those interests can be put at risk. I emphasise the word "can". It is not automatic, but where that might happen is an area in which the criminal law can properly be engaged.

My hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East referred to the White Paper. Of course we made this principle an absolute matter in the White Paper. We said that the criminal law could be visited on all such disclosures in confidence from foreign Governments or international organisations, but we were persuaded out of that in the debate on the White Paper, so my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East is right. We have made a substantial change between the White Paper and the Bill in that respect by saying that it is not an absolute offence and by introducing the test of harm. Of the three changes that we have made, that was the most substantial. All the changes were in the same opening-up direction, but that change between the White Pa per and the Bill was the most substantial.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

What on earth does clause 3(3) mean? Does that not say exactly what the White Paper says?

Mr. Hurd

I will come to that.

On reflection, I do not believe that every disclosure of confidential information is likely to be so harmful as to require the protection of the criminal law. That is why we introduced the test of harm.

My hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East and my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills clearly believe that the effect of clause 3(3) is to bypass the harm tests and to create an absolute offence, but that is not so. Clause 3(3) says that the information may—I emphasise "may"—be regarded as meeting the harm test. It does not say that it "shall" be so regarded—the prosecution has to prove that. That is crucial. The harm test still exists and my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills is wrong. The prosecution still has to prove the specific harm, so it does not matter whether the prosecution rests its case on the contents of the disclosure or on the argument that the disclosure causes a specific harm. The specific harm is not bypassed—the prosecution has to meet it in either case.

Clause 3(3) respects the harm test, so both my hon. Friends the Members for Southend, East and for Aldridge-Brownhills were wrong to say that we are recreating the absolute offence that we moved away from between the White Paper and the Bill. I have been hammering away at this point for a long time now, and I must admit that I have been hammering away to relatively little avail. I think that there is a case—although I am clearly advised that the courts would be under no difficulty about this matter—for me to look to see whether we can clarify this point, to make it absolutely clear in somewhat different wording that there is a specific harm test, whether the prosecution is relying on the contents of the disclosure or on the suggestion that the disclosure itself causes the specific harm.

11.15 pm
Mr. Gorst

I ask my right hon. Friend to clarify another point relating to the EEC. If a disclosure passes the test of damage, and so on, but it subsequently emerges that information was available not only from a Whitehall source but from a source in Brussels, will it be a defence to say that the information came from a source not covered by the Official Secrets Act? I also ask my right hon. Friend to enlighten me as to precisely what will be the status of a Member of the European Parliament who raises matters in the arena of the European Parliament. He must surely be privileged, as we are, being an elected representative.

Mr. Hurd

As to my hon. Friend's first point, the prosecution has to prove that the disclosure was of British official information which passed the harm test or satisfied the test of the law. Obviously, it is not an offence under the Bill to disclose the secrets or the official information of other Governments. If the defendant could prove that he obtained the information that he disclosed from somewhere else, that is nothing to do with the Bill or with the jurisdiction of the British courts.

On my hon. Friend's second point, I hesitate to get into a debate on the privilege of MEPs, because that is not a subject on which I am an expert, although tomorrow we may hear a little more about the privilege of right hon. and hon. Members of this House. Nevertheless, my hon. Friend makes a valid point and I will inquire into it.

Mr. Budgen

My right hon. Friend mentions the test of harm. To whom will the harm be caused? Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that there was a revelation that there had been a gross over-claim for the number of olive trees in Sicily, and it was alleged that the Italians were conniving at a gross fraud by their nationals in relation to the common agricultural policy. I have no doubt that my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst), with his affection for the EEC, thinks that such a thing is most unlikely. Let us, however, make the unlikely assumption that the Italian state connived at that kind of fraud. If someone revealed that fraud, would it be considered harmful to the EEC, or to our relations with the EEC, or to the British national interest? Such matters, which my right hon. Friend talks about in a very general way, ought to be more closely defined.

Mr. Hurd

Such a disclosure would have to pass one of the tests of harm in the Bill. The prosecution would have to show that there was jeopardy to United Kingdom interests abroad. In the hypothetical case that my hon. Friend makes, he—or somebody else—would resolutely say that, on the contary, United Kingdom interests abroad were enhanced by disclosure of some hanky-panky over olive trees in Calabria, and there would be an exciting case. It is extraordinarily improbable that such a case would ever be brought. My hon. Friend's ingenuity seems to have deserted him on this occasion as he has not produced a particularly good argument.

Having given an assurance that we shall seek to clarify a point that has caused fairly continuous trouble, I re-emphasise that our intentions are clear and we are advised that our wording is absolutely clear. Nevertheless, we shall see if we can improve upon it.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the subject of harm or damage in relation to international organisations and to the EEC in particular, I will give him another example to consider. In the Council of Ministers, there is a rule of notional confidentiality. There is no specific account, such as Hansard, of what goes on there. It could be construed that any revelation of a British Minister's approach within the Council of Ministers would harm British interests.

In the newspapers recently, there has been a dispute between one ex-Minister and another Minister over what happened in the Council. Is such a revelation really damaging to British interests as a whole, even if it shows that the Government are not doing what they say that they are doing? Is that not an example of how some ambivalence can arise in respect of the damage done by a revelation within the EEC, and proof of why such a provision should not be in the Bill?

Mr. Hurd

That seems even more far-fetched. I repeat that there could not conceivably be a prosecution under the Bill on the ground of embarrasment to a British Minister. That is not a criterion. [Interruption.] This is part of the point of the legislation. We are depoliticising the process by inserting the test of harm and leaving the decision to a jury. That, in practice, may be one of the main effects of the Bill. I do not think that the ordinary sort of argument about what happened in the Council of Ministers, with which the hon. Gentleman and I are both familiar—a healthy exchange of accuracies and inaccuracies—has anything to do with the Bill.

The question has been raised—not very forcefully this evening, but it has been raised outside—of what constitutes an international organisation. My hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East was scornful about what he regards as a tautology in clause 13(1), but it clears up a point that has been of concern to my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins). There has been a certain amount of anxiety that we might include organisations that were not intergovernmental. Clause 13(1) makes it clear that that is not the case. Here, again, I am advised that a little further clarification would be desirable, although it is a tiny point. I do not expect to gain any great popularity in this regard, but I think that there is a case for a small amendment to put the matter beyond any possible doubt.

Mr. Rooker

In any further consideration of clause 13(1), will the Government take the opportunity to draw a distinction between the European Commission and the European Parliament? It could be argued that because the Parliament is an elected Assembly it is not the Government who are represented there, so it does not fall under the definition in clause 13(1) of an international organisation—the Parliament, as opposed to the Commission.

Mr. Corbett

It is an "organ of".

Mr. Rooker

I realise that, but the fact remains that the state is not a member of the Parliament. Freely elected people representing this country and other nations are its members.

Mr. Hurd

I should like to examine the hon. Gentleman's specific point about the European Parliament. He put it concisely, and although I do not wish to concede it I shall certainly give it consideration.

Mr. Richard Shepherd

Will my right hon. Friend give way? I would like a point to be clarified.

Mr. Hurd

If my hon. Friend will bide his time for a short while, I will certainly give way.

Having listened for many years to my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East on the subject of Europe, I always thought that he regarded it as an international organisation and felt that the further at arm's length we could keep it, the better. But the drift today was different. I think that, partly for the reasons given by my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Knight), it would be wrong and, indeed, quixotic to exclude an international organisation—which the EC certainly is—simply because we have more intimate dealings within it than within other international organisations to which we belong. The Bill will cover EC information, not to protect the interests of the Community but to protect this country's interests abroad.

The information that we receive from the European Community is, of course, of great volume, as all who serve on the Select Committee know, but it falls into three main categories. The bulk of it is not confidential, and is therefore not received in confidence and is completely outside the scope of the Bill. The disclosure of much that we do receive in confidence would, under the White Paper scheme, have been an absolute offence. It was partly because of that that we were persuaded to drop the argument. There is now a harm test, and I think—although I cannot be specific—that the bulk of information received in confidence from the EC would fail that test.

I do not agree with the point that the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland majored on—that in some way we are clawing back a great deal of information which would be liberated from the criminal law under the other provisions of the Bill. That cannot be so if he accepts what I have said about clause 3(3) and the harm test. For instance, the hon. Gentleman mentioned food safety. There might well be EC documents about food safety, which is a matter for discussion by the EC. It is conceivable that we might receive certain documents in confidence—I am not referring to any particular documents—and it might not be a good idea for civil servants to disclose the contents of such documents, but I shall not go into that.

If a document dealing with the issue of a Cabinet paper is clearly outside the scope of the Bill, I do not understand how an EC document would pass the harm test relating to United Kingdom interests abroad. Although the hon. Gentleman might be able to produce hypothetical examples where that might happen, the bulk of EC documents and discussions deal with domestic matters such as transport, food safety, and so on, and there is no way in which they would pass the harm test in the Bill.

Mr. Higgins

My right hon. Friend has already agreed to find out whether the European Parliament would be classified as an international organisation under the Bill. I find it somewhat extraordinary that that point has not already been dealt with. What is his view of the status of the European Commission?

Mr. Hurd

I am clear that the European Parliament is within the scope of the Bill as drafted, but I have promised to look at the matter in the light of what has been said. Clearly, the European Commission is and should he within the scope of the Bill. Returning to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North, the Commission frequently negotiates with other states on behalf of the European Community. That is one reason why it should be included in the Bill.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Is my right hon. Friend saying that the European Commission is to be classified as an international organisation under the Bill, despite the definition in clause 13(2) which refers to member states? Surely that cannot be the case. If it is, what is the position of a former British civil servant who is employed by the Commission as a European civil servant and obviously has loyalties there, who may wish to reveal something that could be prejudicial to Britain but is in the interests of the European Community?

Mr. Hurd

On the first point, the European Commission is clearly an organ of the European Community, which is clearly an international organisation. Bodies such as the NATO secretariat and SACEUR are comparable in that they are central organs of an international organisation and therefore are and should be within the Bill. My hon. Friend asked me a specific question about former Crown staff. A former Crown servant working for the Commission in Brussels remains covered by the provisions, of the Bill in regard to information that he acquired while he was a Crown servant here—that is the position under the present law and under the Bill—but information that he acquires through his work for the Commission is not covered by the Bill for the reasons that I gave earlier.

I hope that I have covered the points raised in the debate and in the amendments. I believe that the principles of clause 3 as drafted are correct. I do not accept the view of my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing that the basic principle has been eroded by the passage of time and by the conduct and progress of international relations. There is a principle that needs to be safeguarded and that is worth the retention of some intervention by the criminal law—I say some intervention because of the harm test. In regard to the difficult point about the harm test—the fact that the prosecution might argue that the disclosure itself is doing the harm—which has been the kernel of the debate, I have undertaken to re-examine the possibilities of clarification and to reconsider one minor point. I hope that in the light of those replies and those undertakings the Committee will feel that we have not done too badly.

Mr. Alistair Darling (Edinburgh, Central)

The Secretary of State appears to be telling us that the provisions of this clause are not new and, because section 2 of the 1911 Act covers just about everything, this must be an improvement. However, clause 3 appears to be breaking new ground. It singles out international relations—a very wide definition of international relations—for a new form of secrecy.

11.30 pm

As the Secretary of State, for the first time this evening, has been good enough to say that he is prepared to look again at certain points, I suppose that we should welcome that. It is in that spirit that I press him further in the hope that he will look at them more than he has agreed to do.

Clause 3 illustrates the real difficulty between the national interest and the Government interest, because the two appear to be confused. What is it that we are trying to stop? The right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Sir I. Gilmour) said that the Secretary of State appeared to have a rather quaint view of international relations. Many of us might subscribe to the view that we should safeguard those bits of information which might be important to defence or the prevention of criminal activities. However, this clause goes much further than that.

Let us begin by looking at clause 3(2) to see what it is that is damaging. It says that a disclosure is damaging if it jeopardises the interests of the United Kingdom abroad, seriously obstructs the promotion or protection … of those interests". That is very wide. Indeed, clause 3(2)(b) provides that any disclosure would be damaging if it was likely to do those things. I wish that the Secretary of State would stop using the term "harm test," because he makes it sound as though there was some sort of harm test. One can see from clause 3(2) that it is easy to transgress the terms of that clause so that an individual could be brought within the scope of it and so be liable to prosecution.

We are told in clause 3(1)(a) that a damaging disclosure is any information, document or other article relating to international relations". International relations are not defined in a narrow way, but are unspecific. More than that, in subsection (1)(b) we are told that a damaging disclosure can be any confidential information, document or other article which was obtained from a State other than the United Kingdom or an international organisation. Whether the Home Secretary likes it or not, that includes the EEC.

What is confidential information? It has not been referred to very much so far.

Mr. Hind

The hon. Gentleman has missed out the most important point. He should read the last part of clause 3(1), which refers to information or a document or article which is or has been in his possession by virtue of his position as a Crown servant or government contractor"— in other words, documents which have come into his possession as a consequence of his position, and in confidence. That is the purpose behind it.

Mr. Darling

I am not sure how that assists us.

If one looks at clause 3(6) for a definition of confidentiality, one sees, among other things, that it says: while the circumstances in which it was obtained make it reasonable for the State or organisation to expect that it would be so held". We can see exactly what would happen. If someone suddenly revealed that something untoward was going on, all that would be necessary would be for an official, a Government or an agency to say, "We expected that to be confidential," and it would then be brought within the terms of this clause. That is thoroughly undesirable.

The Secretary of State says that clause 3(3), which must be one of the most clumsily drafted clauses in this Bill—that takes some beating when we consider some of the other clauses which we have discussed—is a guide to the prosecutor. He says that any information, article or document within clause 3(1)(b)—that is, whether it is confidential or not—may be regarded for the purposes of clause 3(2)(a)—that is, whether or not it is likely to jeopardise the interests—as such if its unauthorised disclosure would be likely to have any of the effects mentioned in the clause. That is a guide to the jury, not to the prosecution. That is important. If somebody were to be prosecuted under the clause, the judge would say that the jury must have regard to subsection (3) to see whether any information may be regarded, for the purposes of the rest of the clause, as being confidential.

I fear that we will see prosecutions being brought under the clause, widely couched as it is, in cases where somebody has revealed communications between the EEC and this country. We are not talking only about organisations such as NATO or Interpol but about matters currently under discussion between EEC Ministers. Somebody may care to make such information public. A great deal of information is being exchanged in the Trevi group of Ministers between the Home Secretary and his counterparts within the EEC. It does not involve simply fisheries and food. The Shengan group of countries is discussing all sorts of methods to restrict the movements of people within the EEC and in and out of the EEC. It may be that such information should be made known. Yet, under this clause, to do so would be a criminal offence and render the person disclosing the information liable to prosecution.

The difficulty is that the clause covers items which are not simply matters of security. They are matters that might be the cause of some embarrassment. The Home Secretary says that that is not so, but the Government may decide, through the Director of Public Prosecutions, that a prosecution is necessary simply to stop the flow of information.

The clause is drawn in wide terms. It does not matter what the Home Secretary says to explain this clause or any other clause. Ultimately, a judge will have to direct a jury as to whether it should convict and the judge will have regard to what the statute says, not what the Home Secretary or anyone else said during the debate or what a press release might say. The statute is the key element—[Interruption.] It is all very well for the Minister of State to say from a sedentary position that he knows all that. Earlier today I wondered whether he did know all this because, in some of the clauses with which he was dealing, it was far from clear what it was intended that the statute should mean. His efforts, whether to clarify matters or to obfuscate, did not assist.

I understand that the Home Secretary said that he would look at subsection (3) again. In addition, I ask him to look at the way in which the clause is drafted. I want him to ask himself what is the mischief at which he wants to strike. If it is the protection of defence secrets or certain negotiations, it would be better to legislate to stop that information being revealed rather than to have a catch-all clause which translates the worst elements of section 2 of the 1911 Act into clause 3. That is what the clause seeks to do.

The right hon. Gentleman should bear it in mind that a law will work only if it is respected and widely accepted. My fear is that much of the Bill, and this clause in particular, will fall into the same disrepute as section 2 of the 1911 Act simply because we did not have time, and the Government did not have the inclination, to give the clause the consideration it deserved. I hope that the Secretary of State will consider carefully the terms of the clause because, with so much of our lives being governed by the EEC and its directives, it is not good enough to say that members of the British public cannot know what is going on because it is protected by the clause.

Mr. Hind

Most of the public must be wondering whether the Bench from which I am rising is a Government Bench. I want to support some of the aspects of the Bill. While quietly and objectively listening to the debate on this clause, I was beginning to think that it was a quirky idea to want to protect the interests of the country in respect of international relations. Judging from the look of surprise on some of my colleagues' faces, I am not alone in thinking that that is a quirky idea.

Over and over again there has been a failure to grasp the fact that the criminal law is necessary to protect the national interest. International relations are highly sensitive. We are involved with a number of international organisations, as well as with other countries. Negotiations with them are of the essence of our national interests and must be protected.

Right hon. and hon. Members have repeatedly ignored the fact that the Bill contains a test of harm. Many have tried to run down that idea, but it is the crux of the Bill. Civil servants must be loyal to the state; they must not breach that loyalty and pass on damaging information. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling) read out some of the clause, but forgot to read the bit that matters. It refers to wrongful disclosure by someone as being any information, or a document or article which is or has been in his possession by virtue of his position as a Crown servant or government contractor. The clause deals with people who come into possession of information by reason of their positions of confidence, and the criminal law should be used against such people. It is an extremely sensible way of dealing with the problem.

It has been alleged that this Bill represents a change from the 1911 Act. Of course it does, but it is a narrowing, not a broadening, change. Most Government activities are covered by the 1911 Act—not so by the Bill. The sooner hon. Members realise that this is a liberalising measure, the better; and the better the public will understand it—

Mr. Aitken

Where, in the 1911 Act, is there any reference to international organisations' secrets, or to its being part of the British Government's duty to protect the secrets of foreign Governments or organisations? Surely these are enlargements of the legislation's scope.

Mr. Hind

The 1911 Act is so global in its scope that it covers everything. My hon. Friend knows how few international organisations there were in 1911. There was no EEC or NATO, there were no major international organisations—they were all created in recent years. My hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) spoke about the EEC. Why should it be treated any differently? [Interruption.] Opposition Members may laugh, but there are 12 member states in the EEC with which we carry out delicate negotiations. Those negotiations need the same protection as is afforded to non-EEC countries' dealings with our country. What is all the fuss about?

There is no real reason why the EEC should be singled out for different treatment. We are involved with it in many ways, and there is no need to exclude it from the clause.

Mr. Budgen

I am sure that my hon. Friend is trying to help the Government, but he must see that there is a conflict of loyalty here. Our former colleague Sir Leon Brittan was a distinguished Cabinet Minister. As such, he swore an oath of loyalty. As a Commissioner, he has now sworn an oath of loyalty to the EEC, an oath which, as he would put it, supersedes the narrow, outdated nationalistic oath that he swore in this House. He may feel it necessary from time to time to disclose information that he obtained on a narrow, nationalistic and parochial basis.

These may be regarded by many people as small points. Now that I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind) is being handed a piece, of paper from the Government Front Bench, perhaps he will answer this querry. To pretend that there is no case is nonsense, and now that I have given my hon. Friend an opportunity—

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. Interventions should be brief.

11.45 pm
Mr. Hind

The arguments adduced against the clause have been out of all proportion to the simple and straightforward principle behind it, which is that the country is entitled to expect Parliament to provide protection for matters of confidence which affect our international relations and therefore the interests of the nation. The Bill provides that. The clause meets that requirement, and the amendment should be rejected.

Mr. Richard Shepherd

I do not think anyone objects to the protection of some information in connection with international relations, and to that end my hon. Friend the Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind) has not understood the amendment. While we accept that some information should be protected, the debate has been about the wide way in which the clause has been drafted.

It is an extraordinary clause. I have satisfied myself that it was a case of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office contending for the world, and by some peculiar mismatch of Whitehall dealing, it has got everything for which it asked. Indeed, it got so much that it is embarrassed by this richness of opportunities to prosecute and to prevent the publication or dissemination of information.

I do not agree with the Home Secretary's claim that there is not a new class of offence here. Information given by international organisations worries us. We have banged on over this matter—I use that expression deliberately—since the White Paper was published. The explanation given so far of what is an international organisation is not satisfactory. We are grateful, therefore, that the Home Secretary has promised to provide some clarification.

This series of amendments suggests that these international organisations should be listed. The Foreign Secretary will not list them because, he has told us, it would not be practicable to do so. When, earlier this year, my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) asked the Foreign Secretary to list the international organisations with which we have had dealings in the last year, that was not possible either, so we remain cautious about the meaing of "international organisations."

Sir Ian Gilmour

If the Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not know what an international organisation is, how is a journalist, who is liable to be prosecuted, to know?

Mr. Shepherd

The Minister of State is present. He is an authority on most things. Perhaps he will explain.

The United Nations must be an international organisation. We know about the recent problems of UNESCO and the activities of Mr. M'Bow. Lots of information currently reported by the British press is leaked information. That has been a tradition of this country, thank goodness, and it is part of what makes this a democracy and enables us, across the Floor of the House, to hold Governments to account and to question them on, and contribute to, foreign policy.

That flow of information must continue. The provision on international organisations has been drafted with a sloppy damage test. Not every judge or jury will be as wise or as understanding about the intentions of the legislation as my right hon. Friend or the Government. A jury might be persuaded by a barrister who relied on the fact that the damage test was satisfied because of the reference in clause 3(3) to the phrase: by reason of the fact that it is confidential". All those are matters of legitimate concern.

Amendment No. 25 proposes that the Government list the international organisations. If a criminal prosecution may be triggered, it does not seem unreasonable that we should know which organisation released the information which might jeopardise the interests of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Whitney

When my hon. Friends talk about information coming from international organisations they are neglecting the fact that the disclosure must be damaging. In a throwaway remark, my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) suggested that it was a sloppy damage test. Subsection (2)(a) is not sloppy. My hon. Friend has suggested that the word "seriously" should be removed. That would make the provision sloppy. It is not sloppy at the moment.

Mr. Shepherd

It is always a joy to respond to my hon. Friend, a former diplomat. As to the point he made about the word "seriously", I wanted to know why the Government could have "seriously obstructs" but could not have "serious injury" to the interest of the United Kingdom abroad. The debate about whether the provision is sloppily drafted has consumed the Committee for two or three hours. I think the overwhelming view is that it is drawn widely.

If my hon. Friend had been here earlier, he would have appreciated the anxiety about clause 3(3) to which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has tried to respond by clarifying the matter. Although we are all wrong and my right hon. Friend is right, he accepts that the matter requires clarification. I am grateful for that, and I do not want to minimise its importance.

As to international organisations, we go back to cocoa marketing and the International Tin Council, which involve representatives of the Malaysian Government and a cartel. Is OPEC, which rigs the oil market, an international organisation under the Bill?

Mr. Maclennan

I want to support the hon. Gentleman's point about the unsatisfactory harm test. In a real sense, clause 3 has no harm test because, under subsection (2)(b), the leaked document does not have to cause harm: it just has to be a document that was likely to cause harm.

Mr. Shepherd

We are familiar with the point, because we have exercised it.

The whole clause is important not just because of the disciplinary procedures within the Civil Service or the Foreign Office but because it relates to clause 5, covering the other groups and organisations that may become liable to prosecution as a consequence of the definition of international relations. That is why we are anxious to get the definition right. I do not believe that we have got it right. It requires further narrowing. I should like to think that, in the spirit of being prepared to accept some points on this, my right hon. Friend will go further than he has hitherto.

Mr. Rooker

The United Kingdom is not a member of OPEC. Given that the Foreign Office will not publish a list of the international organisations to which the Bill will apply, it will be only international organisations of which the United Kingdom is a member. That is the definition in clause 13(1). There is nothing for nothing in the world. If the United Kingdom is a member of an international organisation, it will have to pay a subscription. Money will flow from the British Treasury to help fund our membership of the international organisation, which would not be the case with OPEC. Therefore, what is the problem about the Home Secretary arranging for a list of the international organisations to which the United Kingdom pays subscriptions—all of which, I presume, would at some time send confidential information to the United Kindom? Where money follows, surely that is the list that we want. But that would not include—

The Chairman

Order. Is this relevant?

Mr. Rooker

Yes, it is, Mr. Walker.

That list would not include OPEC.

Mr. Shepherd

I am most grateful for that point. I had not taken on board the fact that we had to be a member of an international organisation. This is what I am anxious about. If we do not have to be a member, I think it can include OPEC, which is a market cartel whose purpose is to fix the price of oil, and that may be against the domestic interests of our own citizens. It seems to me that it is awful to reach out and support organisations that we may not want to support.

Foreign affairs is one of the most important elements of our sense of citizenship. It is our expression overseas of who we are. Where we stand on foreign affairs, foreign relations, international organisations, is part of our national morality, and the information that we require in order to make a judgment on that goes far beyond the constraints in this piece of legislation. I hope that, in the end, the Home Secretary will see the force of the point that this is a legitimate area that requires widening in the interests of public affairs in this country.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

We greatly appreciate the fact that the Home Secretary is prepared to look again at the most worrying aspect of this clause. This is the first occasion on which he has felt able to make such an offer. When the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) and I are on a joint deputation, it is quite clear that there must be something serious about. We should certainly thank the Home Secretary very much for his offer, and I hope that something useful will come from it.

I hope that, when he is reconsidering what we regard as a major problem in the Bill. which would create an injustice, my right hon. Friend will have another look at what constitutes an international organisation. How can we pass a law to create a penalty against people for revealing something emanating from an international organisation when none of us in this Chamber knows now—I challenge any hon. Member to say—what an international organisation is. We have been told that it is defined in clause 13(1), which says that it is an organisation of member states. Anyone who thinks that should look at clause 13(2), which says that, for the purposes of some parts of this Bill, an international organisation includes…any such organisation whether or not one of which only States are members and includes a commercial organisation. So it is quite clear that when we refer to an international organisation, we are talking of something much, much wider.

Mr. Greg Knight

Does my hon. Friend not consider that the idea of a schedule or list is also unworkable, because no provision is made for altering that schedule or list? As I understand the position, new primary legislation would be needed to add names to the list.

Mr. Taylor

I agree entirely that we cannot have a list, but surely we should have a definition. We cannot say that an international organisation is either a group of member states or else something that is not a group of member states, but includes people who are not member states, and can be a commercial organisation. I suggest that "international organisation" could mean anything at all, and I appeal to the Home Secretary, he having kindly said that he will look at one of our worries, to look at this one also.

May I ask my right hon. Friend to look seriously at the question of conflict of interests? He has confirmed that the European Community and the European Commission are both covered as international organisations. What on earth is the duty of a former British civil servant, obliged not to divulge anything in the national interest, who then had to divulge it as a European civil servant or Commissioner, saying that his obligation was to the European Community? What would be his position if he were to reveal something that was damaging to the United Kingdom in the wider interests of the Community?

The Home Secretary has said—correctly, I think—that this clause needs to be looked at again. We are grateful to my right hon. Friend for what he has said. I hope that he will also look at those two points. In view of his kindness, I shall not press amendment No. 32 to a Division, but I understand that hon. Members may seek to divide the House on amendment No. 24.

It being Twelve o'clock, THE CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the order [13 February] and the resolution (15 February], to put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour.

Question put, That the amendment be made:

The Committee divided: Ayes 168, Noes 285.

Division No. 97] [12 midnight
Abbott, Ms Diane Fisher, Mark
Aitken, Jonathan Flannery, Martin
Allen, Graham Flynn, Paul
Alton, David Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Anderson, Donald Foster, Derek
Armstrong, Hilary Foulkes, George
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Fraser, John
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Fyfe, Maria
Barron, Kevin Galbraith, Sam
Battle, John Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Beckett, Margaret George, Bruce
Beith, A. J. Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Bell, Stuart Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Bermingham, Gerald Godman, Dr Norman A.
Blair, Tony Golding, Mrs Llin
Blunkett, David Gordon, Mildred
Boateng, Paul Gorst, John
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Gould, Bryan
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Graham, Thomas
Buchan, Norman Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Buckley, George J. Harman, Ms Harriet
Budgen, Nicholas Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Caborn, Richard Haynes, Frank
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Heffer, Eric S.
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Hinchlitfe, David
Canavan, Dennis Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Hood, Jimmy
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Hoyle, Doug
Clay, Bob Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Clelland, David Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Cohen, Harry Ingram, Adam
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Janner, Greville
Corbett, Robin Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Cousins, Jim Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Crowther, Stan Kennedy, Charles
Cryer, Bob Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Cummings, John Lamond, James
Cunliffe, Lawrence Leadbitter, Ted
Dalyell, Tam Leighton, Ron
Darling, Alistair Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Lewis, Terry
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Litherland, Robert
Dewar, Donald Loyden, Eddie
Dixon, Don McAllion, John
Dobson, Frank McAvoy, Thomas
Doran, Frank McCartney, Ian
Dun woody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Macdonald, Calum A.
Eadie, Alexander McFall, John
Eastham, Ken McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Evans, John (St Helens N) Maclennan, Robert
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) McNamara, Kevin
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) McTaggart, Bob
Fearn, Ronald McWilliam, John
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Madden, Max
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Marek, Dr John Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Martlew, Eric Short, Clare
Maxton, John Skinner, Dennis
Meale, Alan Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Michael, Alun Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Snape, Peter
Morgan, Rhodri Soley, Clive
Nellist, Dave Spearing, Nigel
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Steel, Rt Hon David
O'Neill, Martin Strang, Gavin
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Patchett, Terry Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Pike, Peter L. Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Prescott, John Vaz, Keith
Primarolo, Dawn Wall, Pat
Radice, Giles Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Randall, Stuart Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Reid, Dr John Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Richardson, Jo Winnick, David
Robertson, George Wise, Mrs Audrey
Robinson, Geoffrey Worthington, Tony
Rooker, Jeff Wray, Jimmy
Ruddock, Joan
Salmond, Alex Tellers for the Ayes:
Sedgemore, Brian Mr. Robert Wareing and
Sheerman, Barry Mr. Jimmy Dunachie.
Adley, Robert Carttiss, Michael
Alexander, Richard Cash, William
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda
Amess, David Chapman, Sydney
Amos, Alan Churchill, Mr
Arbuthnot, James Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Colvin, Michael
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Conway, Derek
Aspinwall, Jack Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Atkins, Robert Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Atkinson, David Cope, Rt Hon John
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Couchman, James
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Cran, James
Baldry, Tony Currie, Mrs Edwina
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Batiste, Spencer Davis, David (Boothferry)
Beggs, Roy Day, Stephen
Bellingham, Henry Devlin, Tim
Bendall, Vivian Dickens, Geoffrey
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Benyon, W. Dunn, Bob
Bevan, David Gilroy Dykes, Hugh
Biffen, Rt Hon John Eggar, Tim
Blackburn, Dr John G. Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Evennett, David
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fallon, Michael
Boswell, Tim Favell, Tony
Bottomley, Peter Fenner, Dame Peggy
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Fishburn, John Dudley
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Fookes, Dame Janet
Bowis, John Forman, Nigel
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Forth, Eric
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Bright, Graham Fox, Sir Marcus
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Franks, Cecil
Browne, John (Winchester) Freeman, Roger
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) French, Douglas
Buck, Sir Antony Gale, Roger
Burns, Simon Glyn, Dr Alan
Burt, Alistair Goodhart, Sir Philip
Butcher, John Goodlad, Alastair
Butler, Chris Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Butterfill, John Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Gow, Ian
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Gower, Sir Raymond
Carrington, Matthew Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Miller, Sir Hal
Gregory, Conal Miscampbell, Norman
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Mitchell, Sir David
Grist, Ian Monro, Sir Hector
Ground, Patrick Morrison, Sir Charles
Grylls, Michael Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Moss, Malcolm
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Moynihan, Hon Colin
Hanley, Jeremy Neale, Gerrard
Hannam, John Nelson, Anthony
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Neubert, Michael
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Nicholls, Patrick
Hayes, Jerry Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hayward, Robert Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Heathcoat-Amory, David Norris, Steve
Heddle, John Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Oppenheim, Phillip
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Page, Richard
Hind, Kenneth Paice, James
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Holt, Richard Patnick, Irvine
Hordern, Sir Peter Patten, John (Oxford W)
Howard, Michael Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Pawsey, James
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Porter, David (Waveney)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Portillo, Michael
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Powell, William (Corby)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Price, Sir David
Hunter, Andrew Raff an, Keith
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Irvine, Michael Rathbone, Tim
Jack, Michael Redwood, John
Jackson, Robert Renton, Tim
Janman, Tim Rhodes James, Robert
Jessel, Toby Riddick, Graham
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Key, Robert Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Rossi, Sir Hugh
Kirkhope, Timothy Rost, Peter
Knapman, Roger Rowe, Andrew
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Sackville, Hon Tom
Knox, David Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Sayeed, Jonathan
Lang, Ian Scott, Nicholas
Latham, Michael Shaw, David (Dover)
Lawrence, Ivan Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lee, John (Pendle) Shelton, Sir William
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Shersby, Michael
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Sims, Roger
Lightbown, David Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lilley, Peter Speller, Tony
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lord, Michael Squire, Robin
McCrindle, Robert Stanbrook, Ivor
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Steen, Anthony
Maclean, David Stern, Michael
McLoughlin, Patrick Stevens, Lewis
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Stokes, Sir John
Madel, David Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Major, Rt Hon John Sumberg, David
Malins, Humfrey Summerson, Hugo
Maples, John Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Marland, Paul Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Temple-Morris, Peter
Mates, Michael Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Maude, Hon Francis Thorne, Neil
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Thornton, Malcolm
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Thurnham, Peter
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Trotter, Neville Wiggin, Jerry
Twinn, Dr Ian Wilkinson, John
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Wilshire, David
Viggers, Peter Winterton, Mrs Ann
Waddington, Rt Hon David Winterton, Nicholas
Wakeham, Rt Hon John Wolfson, Mark
Walden, George Wood, Timothy
Walker, Bill (T'side North) Woodcock, Mike
Waller, Gary Yeo, Tim
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Warren, Kenneth Younger, Rt Hon George
Watts, John
Wells, Bowen Tellers for the Noes:
Wheeler, John Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones and
Whitney, Ray Mr. Tony Durant.
Widdecombe, Ann

Question accordingly negatived.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

To report Progress and ask leave to sit again.—[Mr. John M. Taylor.]

Committee report Progress; to sit again this day.