HC Deb 13 March 1985 vol 75 cc319-39 4.33 pm
Sir Edward Gardner (Fylde)

I beg to move, That the report in the Times newspaper of 6th March concerning the draft Report of the Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee on the Special Branches of the police be referred to the Committee of Privileges. The motion arises from an item in the Times diary on 6 March concerning the draft report of the Chairman of the Select Committee on Home Affairs on the special branches of the police. On Wednesday 20 February copies of the draft report were issued to the 11 members of the Committee and to no one else. The draft report on this highly sensitive and difficult subject has yet to be considered by the Committee.

On Wednesday 6 March, a summary of the draft report appeared under the heading "Special clearance" in the Times diary. I submit that I need hardly satisfy the House that the article is a disclosure of the draft report, because the article itself admits that the report has been "leaked to the Diary". I submit that this disclosure is a clear and serious breach of the rules governing Select Committees.

The article appears to have been intended to embarrass and influence the Committee in its consideration of the draft report. Some might say that it was an attempt to set the cat among the pigeons. I am not suggesting for one moment that the members of the Home Affairs Committee individually or collectively are not strong enough to resist tactics of this kind, but the fact remains that what has been put at risk is something very important—the trust that ought to exist between members of a Committee of this kind.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

It happens all the time.

Sir Edward Gardner

I submit that the article flouts contemptuously the rules of the House regarding the publication of a draft report by a Select Committee.

For those reasons, the matter should be referred to the Committee of Privileges.

4.36 pm
Mr. Brian Sedgemore (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)

In opposing the motion, I am sure that the hon. and learned Member for Fylde (Sir E. Gardner) will know that I personally wish him no ill. There was a famous occasion when we worked together in a murder trial, and to our astonishment our client got off. Some said that it was due to the forensic skills of the hon. and learned Gentleman; others that he so confused the jury that it gave up trying to find out where the truth lay. Anyway, the net result was that that murderer was set free on the streets of London, but that is by the way.

I think that hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree that government by leak is not open government. That applies whether we are dealing with the despicable conduct of Mr. Clive Ponting or the school sneak who has apparently released this document to the Times diary. That is a totally different question from saying that the House should be using its powers of privilege in this matter.

I believe that Select Committees have got themselves into a terrible mess over the issue of privilege, and that it is fair to say that double standards, duplicity and hypocrisy are being used. Although the hon. and learned Member for Fylde is not guilty of any of that, I believe that it is implicit in the very bringing of a privilege motion of this kind.

I think that a lot of the trouble began—I do not want to rake up old feuds—when the Select Committee on Members' Interests was dealing with complaints about the Oman issue last year. At that time, we had reports by Mr. Gordon Greig of the Daily Mail and Mr. Anthony Bevins of The Times which were direct reports of the meetings of the Select Committee on Members' Interests. I wrote to the Clerk to the Committee, Mr. Lankester, pointing this out, and he presented my letters to the Committee, but the Committee, in its wisdom, decided to take no further action. Hon. Members may say that that is all right, but there appears to be one standard for the Select Committee on Members' Interests and another for the Select Committee on Home Affairs.

It was also deeply disturbing, because my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours), although he was not responsible for any of the leaks, was under extreme pressure not to talk about the Select Committee on Members' Interests in public. Yet two distinguished journalists were reporting on the proceedings of the Committee and no action was taken against them.

There was also the curious situation that the Chairman of the Committee, in a radio broadcast, spoke about what the Committee was doing at that time. You ruled, Mr. Speaker, that it was not a prima facie breach of privilege, and, knowing that my place in the sun would eventually come and that I would get my rock cake over tea with you, I accepted your ruling, but I am bound to say that I shall never understand it. However, that is my ignorance rather than your lack of wisdom.

It seems that the whole basis of confidentiality in relation to Committees of this type has broken down, and it will not be re-established by asking journalists on the Times diary questions about the leak that occurred on this occasion. It is clear that we shall not get anywhere with action of that type.

I am a member of the Select Committee on the Treasury and Civil Service. That Committee leaks so much that we could be a Government Department charged with the safe keeping of top secret documents. A few months ago there were leaks to the Financial Times, and a few weeks ago Mr. Anthony Bevins wrote a story about exchange control, based on a report that had not yet come out, and that story subsequently appeared in the Financial Times.

Perhaps we could solve four fifths of the problem by imprisoning Mr. Anthony Bevins. Editors of other newspapers may be asking, "If he has an elixir that enables him to get hold of all these Select Committee reports, what are all the other parliamentary journalists doing? Why can they not get hold of the information?"

We have Select Committees dealing with Members' interests, the Treasury, public accounts — we have problems with that one, but I will not go into those now—and with home affairs. In this case, no member of the Home Affairs Committee has admitted leaking the document. We are therefore chasing journalists. In other words, we are questioning the freedom of the press. We are chasing people who have rights, responsibilities and obligations to their public. Those obligations mean that they cannot keep silent when they get hold of information.

It is preposterous for Parliament to have its own people, whom it cannot trust, and to chase members of the National Union of Journalists. In that respect I declare an interest as an NUJ member. It is the duty of journalists to report—to publish and be damned—and it is absurd for us to take journalists before the Committee of Privileges and to use that great steamroller to deny the freedom of the press.

4.42 pm
Mr. Jeff Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr)

I rise in essence to repeat an apology that I made once before. In 1975 I was responsible, when on the Government Back Benches, for raising under the old rules a matter of privilege concerning The Economist and a draft report to a Select Committee.

The result on that occasion was that the matter went before the Committee of Privileges. That Committee used the blunderbuss of seeking to ban the journalist in question. I urge the hon. and learned Member for Fylde (Sir E. Gardner) to bear that in mind before pursuing the matter further.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Sedgemore) was right to say that the House will find itself going after the journalist in question, and nobody else — [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members may deny that, but it is clear that the journalist will not say who gave him or her the report. The source of the information will not be divulged. Thus, the House will be after the journalist, and nobody else.

The only sanction that can be employed—apart from putting the journalist in the Tower or calling him or her before the Bar of the House, which I suspect we shall not do — is to seek to ban the journalist or journalists concerned from the House. We would be a laughing stock if we attempted to do that. There is no justification for proceeding with the type of motion that is now before the House.

I accept that a journalist who gets a report in draft form should not be in possession of it and that a breach of trust must have occurred. But that problem will not be solved by hunting journalists. Indeed, there is no solution to the problem. It is impossible to legislate to create trust between members of Select Committees—I declare an interest in that I have never been a member of a Select Committee—and any lack of trust problem cannot be solved in that way. Thus, what is the hon. and learned Member for Fylde seeking to achieve by taking the matter to the Committee of Privileges?

Mr. Eric Forth (Mid-Worcestershire)


Mr. Rooker

I will not give way, because I am anxious not to delay the House.

If the motion is approved, the result could be to pillory a journalist—[Interruption.]—and that is the reality of the matter. It will not be an hon. Member, a clerk or a typist—perhaps the typist who typed the report—who will be pilloried.

Remembering that the only sanction available in the past has been to ban a journalist from earning his living—the case I have in mind concerning The Economist involved a Mr. Schreiber and somebody else — we should be indulging in a futile exercise which would make us the laughing stock of the nation and the free world. For that reason, I urge the House to reject the motion.

4.45 pm
Mr. Robin Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)

Today, unlike on certain occasions in the past, parliamentary privilege exists for one purpose only, and that is to enable Parliament to do the job for which its hon. Members have been elected. That must be the test of the application of such sanctions as parliamentary privilege possesses. Thus, the question is whether Select Committees of the House—after the recommendation of the Select Committee on Procedure in 1977–78 was adopted by the House in 1980—are a new way of wasting time, or are among the most valuable assertions of the reality of Parliament, as opposed to the Executive.

If one takes the view that Select Committees are not as much as that but are, nevertheless, a valuable tool by which Back Benchers carry out the job for which they were elected, we must go on to ask whether, if a breach of privilege has occurred — that is a matter for the Committee of Privileges to decide—it is a breach which impairs the functioning of Parliament. That is the aspect to which I wish to refer.

What is known as the Chairman's draft may occasionally be written by the Chairman. In practice, it is written by a combination of the Clerk of the Committee and the specialist advisers, under the guidance of the chairman. That is then presented to the Committee for private discussion.

If at that stage it is released, a question is raised which is important but which would not otherwise matter in the least. Should anybody other than the Chairman be allowed to write the Chairman's draft? If it is to be released in a form in which somebody not elected has written it, then that report—at that stage it has not been adopted by the members of the Committee—will be read by the public as the Chairman's, if not the Committee's, report, when of course it is not.

Unless the House orders—anyone who has served on a Select Committee will appreciate that to do this would be impracticable—that the Chairman's draft is to be written only by the Chairman, the professional servants of the House will be put in an impossible position.

I have been a member of what is now called the Select Committee on Trade and Industry since it came into existence 14 years ago, having been a Sub-Committee of the Select Committee on Public Expenditure. I have never known any member of that Committee criticise the Clerk, who wrote the Chairman's draft, on the grounds that he or she expressed one, rather than another, opinion. The Chairman accepted responsibility for the draft.

To leak a report as if it were the report of elected Members when it is not, is to do a disservice to the readers of the document and to the Select Committee. The confidentiality of the process, leading, in private session, to the report being laid on the Table, is not marginal or peripheral but is essential to the integrity of the Select Committee process.

When the recommendations of the Procedure Committee were laid before the House in 1980, the Government made one important alteration. They proposed that the membership of Select Committees should be agreed between the usual channels—which, translated into English, meant that the Committees would be packed with toadies rather than appointed by the Committee of Selection. A free vote was allowed on that crucially important question because, however good the Standing Orders and the structure, if the Committees were packed with toadies, the whole operation would be worthless ab initio. The House decided then that the Select Committees should be manned by those appointed by the Committee of Selection. Since 1980 my observation is not that the reports have been perfect, nor that the recommendations have always been ones with which I agreed, but that the Select Committees have made a most valuable contribution to open government, to better policy formation and, above all, to the accountability of civil servants who had previously not been accountable.

Holding that view, I believe that the integrity of these processes is essential to the effective operation of Select Committees. Therefore, it is necessary to refer this matter to the Privileges Committee and, if the Privileges Committee decides that there has been a breach of privilege, to treat it as a serious matter, coming back to the test with which I started. The sole purpose of privilege is not the aggrandisement of Members of Parliament or indeed of Parliament itself. The sole test must be: does this enable us, is it essential to us, is it important to us in carrying out the task for which we were elected? It is because I believe the answer is, yes, it is important, that the motion should be passed by the House.

4.52 pm
Mr. Michael Foot (Blaenau Gwent)

I shall come in a moment to the speech of the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop), but I should like to make one preliminary comment about privilege, arising from the motion moved by the hon. and learned Member for Fylde (Sir E. Gardner). There has been a considerable overhaul of the procedures of the House. Therefore, Members who wish to raise matters of privilege have first to raise the matter with Mr. Speaker. That was an excellent proposal, which was carried almost unanimously by the House when it was brought forward. One of the purposes was to cut down the number of attempts to refer matters to the Select Committee of Privileges.

The authority of the Chamber is protected by that procedure. Because Mr. Speaker rules that a matter is one which, prima facie, should go to the Committee of Privileges, that is not a reason why the House should not reject such a proposal if it wishes. The House of Commons retains the power to reject such a motion if, on grounds of common sense or whatever, it judges that it is advisable to do so. Moreover, the Committee of Privileges does not decide in the end what is a breach of privilege. In the end the matter has to come back to the House.

One of the reasons why I take a different view from the hon. and learned Member for Fylde is that this case will have to come back to the House in the end. It would be much simpler for the House to settle the matter here and now. There can be no doubt that the House now has the power, if it wishes, to settle the question by rejecting the motion. If the House thinks it wise to do so it can settle it in that way, but I understand that there are other arguments.

On the point made by the hon. Member for Tiverton about Select Committees, I am not a great enthusiast for Select Committees, but I am not in favour of sabotaging them by having their documents or discussions leaked before they have reported to the House. I do not wish to interfere in any way with the work that they do. I agree with what the hon. Gentleman said about the valuable work that has been done by many Select Committees, but it does not alter the fact that the multiplication of Select Committees increases the problems about publication of their discussions.

There has, of course, been an increase in the number of occasions when there may be a slip between the cup and the lip, or however one may describe it. Between the time when a Committee starts its sittings and its report is available for publication, under the normal authorised process the possibility of slips, leakages or whatever one may call them, or the possibility of journalists finding out what is happening and actually daring to print it in their newspapers, is greatly multiplied.

The fact that there are more Select Committees means that the danger of this kind of development is greatly increased. That is not a reason for not having Select Committees, but it is a reason for having a sensible way of proceeding. If the motion is referred to the Committee of Privileges, and if this is accepted as normal procedure, my fear is that there will be a series of such cases, because we cannot distinguish between one Select Committee and another. I do not believe that we will prevent leakages by this kind of procedure. All that we will do will be to multiply the references to the Committee of Privileges. Far from making privilege an effective force, we will weaken it. Therefore, I ask the House to think carefully before accepting the motion.

Now let us consider what will happen in this case. What applies to members of Select Committees also applies to the Clerks. I am sure that the Clerks serve the House with the utmost ability and loyalty. None of us wishes to put them in an invidious position, but it is right that members of Committees should preserve the secrecy and the agreements that they have made in the Committee. There will be breaches. If there are leakages from the Cabinet, as there are almost every week, there will be leakages from Select Committees. If there are leakages from the Cabinet on matters of major policy that may involve the state, high finance and so on, we cannot say that we expect a much higher standard of every Select Committee. There will still be pressure from the Gallery and from journalists who are doing their job to find out what is happening.

What will be the result? My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) prophesied what will happen, and I agree with him. If this is referred to the Committee of Privileges, it may decide, as some Committees of Privileges have decided in the past, that the only way that it can proceed is to call the editor of the newspaper and say to him, "You must tell us who was responsible for this leakage, because we cannot trace it otherwise." It is likely to come to that, because that has happened previously. When that happens, my prophecy is that the editor of The Times will say to the Committee, "I am very sorry, but I cannot divulge what my journalist has done."

Journalists are protected in the sense that they are under an authority or under their oath to preserve their sources, and especially in the House. If lobby correspondents were to feel free to break their obligations to Members of Parliament, absolute chaos would break out. Everyone knows that almost every day of the week, almost every hour of the day, and almost every minute of the hour conversations are taking place between Members of Parliament and lobby correspondents. If a breach of confidence were to take place, the whole relationship between the House of Commons and the press would be utterly destroyed. If we refer this matter to the Committee of Privileges, we will come up against a brick wall. The newspaper will refuse to reveal its sources, and the journalist will say the same, so we will not be able to proceed any further.

In the days of John Wilkes, the House would have sent the journalist to the Tower. However, that did not work very well and eventually that practice was stopped. The House of Commons did not do that with good grace, but eventually accepted that it did not work and that it had to be stopped. Why do we not learn from that experience and accept that referring the matter to the Committee of Privileges will not work, so we had better give up now?

If we do not oppose the motion, when we come up against that brick wall and the matter is referred back to the House, we will have this debate again, except that we will be faced with the facts which we are now trying to present to the House. It is better to deal with the matter now.

It is, of course, right that these matters should be aired, especially as we have a new system of procedure, new Select Committees and new things happening in the House. Therefore, it is proper for us to discuss the relationship between this House and the journalists in the Press Gallery. The more that we look at the matter, the more we will find that it will cause only ruptures between this House and the press if we try to enforce the authority of the House through the Committee of Privileges.

That does not mean that I am in favour of people leaking information. I am not in favour of people leaking information from Select Committees or from the Cabinet. I am not even in favour of Speakers leaking conversations that they had when they were in office. These are matters of honour, and that is the way that they should be handled in the House. If the House says that there is no honour between Members of Parliament and journalists, the House will destroy the relationship between Members of Parliament and journalists. I urge the House not to embark on that course.

5.2 pm

Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)

I believe that this House and the country as a whole pay exaggerated and undue respect to the reports of Select Committees. A dozen or so hon. Members, chosen more or less at random, cannot possibly, in their reports, give the distilled wisdom of 650 hon. Members. Therefore, they are often not representative of the House. In addition—and it applies to the matter that we are discussing—all the evidence on which the report is based has been published.

Those who draft the first draft of a report fulfil a useful function. It enables other members of the Committee to focus upon the issues. By participating in discussion about it and its details, we can eventually marshall the arguments, summarise the facts and serve the House on a national issue. For that reason, we should not pass over lightly a breach of trust and honour. We must not do that, for the sake of the House. There must be a sanction against that sort of thing, and surely that sanction is to refer the matter to the Committee of Privileges, which is all that the motion suggests.

The motion does not suggest that the victims of any investigation should necessarily be the press. That is not the point. The point is that an investigation is necessary, because the members of the Select Committee concerned know that only 11 hon. Members had copies of the report. Therefore, one of us is responsible for handing it over to The Times. That cannot possibly be denied. To try to gainsay that at this stage is to bring into the arena the honesty and honour of the professional staff who serve this House. It would not be right to leave the matter there.

We know that one hon. Member actually revealed a document which he was under a duty of trust and honour not to reveal. Therefore, it is a matter of common sense. We do not need any special pleading on behalf of the press from the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) or anyone else. It is truth, honesty and decency that count, which is why we should refer the matter to the Committee of Privileges.

5.5 pm

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

This matter should, without doubt, be referred to the Committee of Privileges—in regard not to a newspaper, but to an hon. Member. The motion does not refer to an hon. Member.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) said that the House could divide on the motion. In doing so, it would be dividing against your judgment, Mr. Speaker. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Perhaps you would clarify the matter, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

I think that I can put the hon. Gentleman right. All that I have done is to give the matter precedence on today's Order Paper.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

I made my remarks advisedly, because the difference between this application and others is that you have given it precedence. Therefore, you are expressing the view that the matter should be dealt with. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] When we read the record of the debate, others might also draw that conclusion.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman should not put words into my mouth or thoughts into my head. I have given the House an opportunity to decide the matter

Mr. Campbell-Savours

I am interested in consistency. Two weeks ago The Guardian published an article containing a statement about the deliberations of a Committee of the House. The journalist inadvertently made that statement because he was not aware that he was, to some extent, breaching the privilege of the House. It is ludicrous for us to pursue a journalist or a newspaper when it is obvious that a journalist, having accepted copy in good faith, has then published it in good faith. He did not know that the copy that he was submitting for publication referred to the deliberations of a Committee.

The journalist who wrote The Times diary may or may not have known about breach of privilege. We cannot be sure. If the Committee pursues the matter in the way that has been suggested, the danger is that the question of privilege may be raised whether or not the journalist knew about the deliberations of the Committee. It might be that the deliberations were in public. A journalist must not be put in a position where he has to decide on privilege. He is not required to understand fully the proceedings and procedure of the House.

If we penalise The Times, it means that any journalist writing anything about comments or statements emanating from the House would, technically, have to check in advance and be assured that the matter was or was not privileged and therefore could or could not be published. It is wrong to place an unnecessary responsibility on a journalist. If he commented on matters raised in the House, but he was not in the Press Gallery and did not have an understanding of the procedures, he would be placed in a difficult position.

In my view, the motion should go for an hon. Member as an hon. Member appears to have breached the privilege of the House. He or she made a statement to a journalist. However, the motion does not do so. Therefore, I submit that the motion should be withdrawn, or that, if it is not withdrawn during the course of the debate, we should vote against it.

5.10 pm
Sir Ian Gilmour (Chesham and Amersham)

The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) says that he is interested in consistency. I believe that whenever the House gets on its high horse over a matter of privilege it consistently makes a fool of itself.

We must consider the precedents and make one obvious distinction. It is plain that whoever leaked the report was in error, dishonourable and guilty of a breach of trust. It is equally true that the journalist who printed the report was not guilty of any of those things. He was simply perfoming his duty as a journalist and was entirely within his rights. It would be totally wrong for the House to give the impression that it was critical of a person who was doing his duty. If we pass the motion, we shall be in danger of failing to make that important distinction.

This is a relatively unimportant matter which should not go before the Committee of Privileges. It seems clear that a member of the Select Committee was at fault. Should not the matter be investigated by the Select Committee itself?

5.12 pm
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Unusually in these days, I find myself in disagreement with the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Sir I Gilmour). There is a reference to The Times in the motion only because the appearance of the report in The Times is the sole evidence that a breach of privilege may have occurred. There is no charge against The Times. Whether, how and why a breach of privilege took place must be a matter for the Committee of Privileges to investigate, if the House decides to refer the matter to the Committee. If no report had appeared, there would be nothing for us to discuss.

The matter is not unimportant. Our Select Committees are an important and necessary, if imperfect, means of extending our scrutiny of and control over the Executive. I believe that it was desirable for the Home Affairs Select Committee to investigate the special branches of the police. I am on record as arguing that some Committee of the House—perhaps a smaller one—should investigate other security matters. The incident under discussion does not help me to put that case.

I believe that Committees must have some means of asserting the importance of confidentiality, both in relation to the nature of the subjects that they discuss and because they should have a means of carrying out their discussions in the way that some hon. Members have described. For example, the members of a Committee should be able to assent to the preparation of a report on a certain set of propositions, some of which they may subsequently vote down. That procedure makes it possible for a certain set of proposals to become a focus for discussion. It is common practice in Select Committees for members to agree that a series of propositions should be placed before them in complete form so that they can be amended or voted down. That is a means of carrying forward the discussion. If such reports are to be leaked, that sensible course of discussion cannot be pursued. That is another reason why we should protect the confidentiality of the Committees.

Some hon. Members have pleaded earnestly on behalf of journalists, who they fear may be imperilled if we accept the motion. I do not share that fear. Moreover, there has been no sense in those speeches that those hon. Members are reaching out for a better remedy for what I regard as a serious impediment to the work of Select Committees. In engaging in special pleading, some hon. Members have failed to show that they take as seriously as they should the importance of the need to maintain confidentiality.

The House has, at the moment, only one means to hand of showing its displeasure, and that is to refer the matter to the Committee of Privileges. That action will have no necessary and immediate consequence. Mr. Rupert Murdoch will not find himself in the Tower—although if that were in prospect the proposition might attract more votes. All that we would secure is that the Committee of Priviliges would consider the matter and exercise its judgment — the Committee includes many able and experienced hon. Members — to make sure that a sensible course is followed. That is not much to ask as a way of insisting that the Select Committees should enjoy confidentiality.

5.15 pm
Miss Janet Fookes (Plymouth, Drake)

I agree with much of what has been said by the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith). We must bear in mind that Select Committees engage in public discussion when they are taking evidence and that when the report is completed it again becomes public. It is open to members of the Committee, if they so wish, to sign a minority report or to make reservations. It therefore seems unreasonable not to allow a Committee a period of confidentiality while it is engaged in chewing over possibilities for inclusion in the report.

Mr. Gordon A. T. Bagier (Sunderland, South)

The hon. Lady has the facts slightly wrong. One cannot produce a minority report in a Select Committee.

Miss Fookes

It is, however, possible to record dissent.

It is not unreasonable to allow a period of confidentiality—usually relatively brief—during which the members of the Committee may hammer out the contents of the report. That is why it is so bad that a report should have been leaked.

I am not much concerned about the fact that the press picked up the report, whether from a noble sense of duty or because it seemed to be a juicy morsel of information that might help to sell more newspapers. I am more concerned about the unpleasant feeling that members of the Committee experience when they cannot trust their colleagues. That is at the heart of the argument.

We work in Committee as members of various parties. We work together despite our political differences. If we have to look over our shoulders and wonder whether we can trust X, Y or Z, it will be far more difficult for us to carry out our work.

I regret very much what has occurred. Whoever leaked the information would do the House a service if he were prepared to do the honourable thing and own up frankly.

5.18 pm
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

I am not sure whether it is a coincidence that this debate follows our debate yesterday, but we certainly seem frequently now to find ourselves discussing security, and I have no complaint to make about that.

I am a member of the Select Committee in question. I hope that if I had leaked the information I would have enough guts to stand up on the Floor of the House and admit it. If I say that I did not do so, it is up to Conservative Members to decide whether they believe me. Those who know me know that I do not lack the courage to defend what I have done, whether in the case of a leak or anything else.

I am an innocent party, but I cannot deny that there was a leak and a breach of confidence. Setting aside the question whether the material should have been leaked, I do not think that the action made much political sense. However, it happened.

However, leaks are hardly unknown, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) has said. I understand that there were a few leaks from the Home Affairs Select Committee in the previous Parliament, although they might not have been of the earliest draft report, as in this case. As far as I am aware, no motion such as this appeared on the Order Paper then.

No useful purpose would be served by taking this matter further. It is not the House's function to give the impression that we are over-sensitive. No purpose either would be served by giving the impression that, because the report appeared originally in The Times and then, somewhat later, in The Guardian, civilisation as we know it is coming to an end. This is not such an important matter. As others have said, if there is discord in a Committee, that is a matter for members of that Committee. I do not know whether the hon. and learned Member for Fylde (Sir E. Gardner) agrees. I expected an item on the Committee agenda concerning the leak. The issue is given an importance which it does not deserve by bringing it up on the Floor of the House and, if the motion is accepted, referring it to the Committee of Privileges.

I agree that the journalist should not be blamed. It is not the journalist's job to decide whether a matter is confidential. It is an odd journalist who would say, "I cannot handle this material because it is confidential and has not yet been considered by the Committee." The journalist has carried out his duty and there is no reason to criticise him. The person to blame is the hon. Member who leaked the information. I doubt whether the offending person was the Committee Clerk, so an hon. Member must have done it.

It is foolish to believe that journalists were not aware of the differences of opinion in the Committee, on the evidence of our public sessions, about the approach to the inquiry into the special branch. If we have differences of opinion on the Floor of the House, it is foolish to imagine that they will disappear in Committee when we are considering a sensitive and controversial matter such as the special branch. Any journalist who followed our proceedings must have known that there was unlikely to be a unanimous report.

The best thing to do in the circumstances is to note what has occurred. Members of the Select Committee can decide to regret or deplore a leak. It would be quite wrong to send the matter to the Committee of Privileges. We should not find out the identity of the culprit, who would probably not wish to own up. As the journalist is not likely to be dealt with critically, because we all seem to agree that he was not at fault, it would be a waste of time to accept the motion.

Mr. Anthony Beaumont-Dark (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have we not flogged this horse to death? Are we to debate this trivial matter all afternoon when we have other, more important, matters to discuss?

Mr. Speaker

This is a matter for the House. Many hon. Members are rising in their places.

5.24 pm
Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)

I do not wish to delay the House. Unusually, I find myself in some agreement with the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick). The matter should not be referred to the Committee of Privileges because we want to make a scapegoat of The Times or to have a witch hunt against a journalist. Some journalist has had something stuffed into his pocket and, naturally enough, he has put it in his newspaper. There is nothing strange about that. Anyone who thinks differently is naive.

Equally, anyone who supposes that no hon. Member has committed an act of dishonour is being naive. I do not understand how hon. Members think that it would be possible for Select Committees to work if we tolerated members of those Committees behaving dishonourably to each other. The Committee of Privileges should address itself to that fact. If it is established that there has been an act of dishonour by an hon. Member, or by an hon. Member who cannot be identified, I hope that the Committee will present some recommendations to the House on how hon. Members might be put on their honour before they are appointed to Committees. Unless we go to that length, we shall have wasted our time.

5.25 pm
Ms. Clare Short (Birmingham, Ladywood)

This is the first time that I have heard the House discuss its privileges, and I must say that I am not impressed. There is an awful air of pomposity. The House is putting through legislation endorsing policies that are smashing up the lives of most people in the country. Hon. Members are not concerned about honour or truth in those matters. That is just a personal comment.

I am a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee and I oppose the motion—but not out of any disrespect of that Committee's Chairman, although I am surprised and regret that he has moved it. I greatly like all his qualities except his political views. No disrespect is intended in what I have said.

The Select Committee's inquiry has drawn great public attention but it has been clear in several of its hearings that it is divided on party lines. It is also well known, and has been reported in the press, that Conservative members of the Committee have deliberately brought the inquiry to a premature conclusion because they want to stifle it and that Labour members of the Committee want other witnesses to be brought before the Committee.

Nothing in the leak brings the Committee into disrepute, embarrasses anyone or puts pressure on anyone. That was the claim of the hon. and learned Member for Fylde (Sir E. Gardner), and it would be a serious matter. Everyone who has followed the inquiry knows how the Committee is divided. Perhaps I might inform the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) that the line taken in the report that was leaked was discussed by the Committee. It was not a draft that had been prepared by the Clerk to the Committee without there having been political discussion. I thought that the hon. Gentleman might like to know that, as he rested much of his argument on the need to protect Clerks to the Committee because of the assumption that they had prepared a draft. That is not the case here.

It was not me who leaked the document. [Interruption.] If I had thought that it would benefit the public or improve our security services or their accountability, I should have leaked it, but I did not. The evidence for that is that, if I want to leak anything, I should not leak it to a disreputable newspaper such as The Times has now become. I used to take that newspaper. Although I did not endorse its political views, I had some regard for the objectivity of its reporting. I cancelled my order some time ago and I have no such regard for it now.

The leak is entirely accurate, as anyone who has followed the proceedings of the Committee knows. Those members of the Committee who want prematurely to end the inquiry by not calling witnesses whom Labour members of the Committee want to call are breaching trust and bringing the Committee into disrepute. The complaint that the leak has done serious harm to the Committee, its members or the House is nonsense, and the motion should be dismissed.

5.30 pm
Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

I do not serve on this or any Select Committee, but having listened to the debate I am beginning to think that a bit of leaking is not a bad idea. I shall not join a Select Committee, but if any Member wishes to pass me any information, I assure him that I have several contacts. They may not work for The Times, but instead the stories could appear in Tribune or Labour Weekly. Neither of those publications has a large circulation, but it is possible that the article could be picked up by others.

This debate has revealed the fraying edges of privilege in this House. In a way I am pleased that it has taken place, because I have always hated the idea of privilege. Many hon. Members who have spoken, even some Conservative Members who want to send this motion to the Committee of Privileges, have done so in an extremely ambiguous manner. Some have been ultra-defensive and have almost admitted, "We will send it, but nothing will happen when it gets there." The hon. and learned Member for Fylde (Sir. E. Gardner), who, according to my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Sedgemore), got a murderer off by bamboozling the jury, has done it again today. He has introduced a motion, but does not know who he is attacking. He thinks he is after an Opposition Member, but given that the Government have a majority on the Select Committee, it could be a Tory. The hon. and learned Gentleman could have put up the classic defence. It could be him.

I am not even sure about the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook). He was quick to rise to his feet and say, "Not me, Mr. Speaker." We shall need the pink panther to solve this one, and any inquiry could run longer than "The Mousetrap", the Agatha Christie play which is now running in a Strand theatre.

This is all nonsense. We are told that this Committee will cost money and that staff will have to be employed, yet people are dying of hypothermia. Every day the Government complain that they do not have money for this, that or the other. The Prime Minister is always saying that the Government have no money—that it belongs to the taxpayer.

Mr. Anthony Beaumont-Dark (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

Sit down while you're ahead.

Mr. Skinner

The hon. Gentleman is not ahead. He has only just walked into the Chamber.

Passing this motion will be a waste of time. Will the 11 members of this Select Committee be grilled? Will their phones be tapped? Will the special branch be brought in? If the Leader of the House has any sense—I am told that he has a bit—he will say,"We have heard enough." He will take the advice of my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) and others, and throw this motion in the dustbin with all the other privilege which abounds in this place.

5.34 pm
Mr. Robin Corbett (Birmingham, Erdington)

Follow that!

The hon. and learned Member for Fylde (Sir. E. Gardner) acknowledged the possibility that this alleged leak could have been an attempt to influence the Committee, but he added that he did not believe that the Committee was likely to be damaged by it in any way. Therefore, what damage has this alleged leak done, except to our amour propre? In my view, what has allegedly taken place is in no way serious enough to warrant the motion.

I am a member of the Committee. I am also a journalist. I know that journalists are paid to discover things which other people do not want them to discover and to report their findings in their newspapers.

The hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Miss Fookes), who is also a member of the Committee—I hope that she will not think that I am being offensive—made the mistake of assuming that if a leak has taken place, it must have been by a member of the Committee. That is the same mistake as assuming that simply because a report appeared in The Times, it must have been written by a member of the staff of The Times. That is not necessarily so, because, as the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) said, all the Committee's evidence has been published. Even someone masquerading as a journalist on a comic called The Sun and reading through the evidence would not need A-levels or a university degree to draw certain conclusions about what kind of report might come out of that evidence. One does not need to be clever to do that. All the evidence has been published, and anyone with the time and diligence could have arrived at the conclusions which allegedly appear in the article in The Times.

Why do we hear about privilege only when matters to which hon. Members take exception appear in newspapers? Last weekend The Sunday Times told us that Sir Antony Duff was to be the new boss of the security services. Last night a junior Minister from the Home Office told the House that there was to be a new boss of the security services and that he had been appointed two months ago, but, so far as I know, no hon. Member has introduced a privilege motion on that matter.

Most of the Sunday newspapers carried stories that the Government would introduce a minimum prescription charge of £2 per item. I know, Mr. Speaker, that you will take the view that information of that kind most properly belongs to this House and should have been announced in the House first by the Secretary of State, yet no one is shouting "privilege" over that.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) said, every day of the week members of the press lobby are wheeled over to 10 Downing Street and fed goodies which fly in the face of proper respect for this House, but apparently no one cares a jot or tittle. All we have is the occasional complaint that press releases are available in the Press Gallery before a statement is made.

I have already said that I am a member of the Committee, but I have no intention of saying whether I did or did not make any alleged leak. This House is not a court or a court martial. We are not here for that purpose. My colleagues, who have said that they did not make the leak, are, I believe, wrong. That is the way in which an American gentleman called McCarthy worked. We are taking ourselves far too seriously. I urge the hon. and learned Member for Fylde to withdraw his motion.

5.38 pm
Mr. Terence Higgins (Worthing)

I believe profoundly that the work of the departmental Select Committees is of the greatest importance. Moreover, I believe that the institutional reforms that we have made have been important in adjusting the balance between the Executive and Parliament. That being so, anything which undermines the work of those Committees is a very serious matter. In that respect, I agree very much with the views expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop).

Certainly it seems to me that this is a House of Commons matter and not a partisan matter in terms of the action that should be taken in matters of this kind. The right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) set out very clearly the problems that may arise if we agree to the motion, but he offered absolutely no solution to the basic problem. We must face the fact that leaks of the kind referred to by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Fylde (Sir E. Gardner) damage the work of Select Committees. That is certainly so if a final report appears in the press in advance of publication and laying before the House. The impact of the report when it is finally published is inevitably diminished.

More important, in cases of this kind damage is done if reports appear in the press of working documents or proceedings of a Committee. A working document—a Chairman's draft report, for example—has no authority whatever. It is not endorsed in any way as representing the views of members of the Committee or of the Committee as a whole. Yet the leaked report—for example, the one that we are now considering — seeks to give some credence to the views expressed in the draft report or in a report of discussions that have taken place.

Regrettably, a member of the Committee, or, indeed, the journalist concerned or the staff or others involved in the work of the Committee, may seek to promote a particular view through a leak of this kind—

Mr. Skinner

So what?

Mr. Higgins

The hon. Gentleman asks, "So what?" It is usurping the authority of the Committee to suggest that the Committee holds a particular view when that is not the case. Therefore, I believe that we should take action in this instance and on the more general issue involved.

This is not a question of excessive secrecy or of something being concealed indefinitely. It is purely and simply a question of whether the information should be made known before the report is published. As has been pointed out, there is no such thing as a minority report from a Select Committee. Nevertheless, any member of a Select Committee with a dissenting view may have that recorded in the proceedings and when the report is published it is abundantly clear what has taken place.

Another point should be considered carefully. Virtually all the leaks that have taken place have concerned proceedings, draft reports and the like. Once that is allowed to happen, some doubt must be cast on the confidentiality of the information given to the Select Committee. That is extremely dangerous, because the work of the Committees would most certainly be inhibited if the Government or outside bodies could say—perhaps on a matter of commercial sensitivity—that they will not give the information to the Committee because it might be leaked and damage them. That is a matter of considerable concern. Therefore, we must take a stand.

Mr. Winnick

As I said earlier, no one could deny that there was a breach of confidence, but what will be the result of the action proposed? Will the Committee of Privileges produce a conclusion or recommendation that will actually prevent leaks in the future?

Mr. Higgins

That is why this reference is so important. We have to know what is likely to happen in cases of this kind.

In discussing the matter with members of the parliamentary press lobby I was surprised to discover that some of them were not fully aware, or indeed aware at all, of the extent to which the House has powers with regard to privilege. This is not a matter of being over-sensitive or pompous but of whether we have a system that allows us to work effectively. That is the crucial issue. Some members of the lobby seem to be unaware of the situation, so they may print things of this kind inadvertently. If nothing else, this debate will help to clarify the position. Others may be well aware of the rules but continue to publish these things all the same.

I fully accept that if we refer this matter to the Committee of Privileges it may be very difficult for that Committee to ascertain who was responsible for the leak. I take the point made by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett), that it may not be a matter of a Member of the House acting dishonourably. The papers may somehow have fallen into the wrong hands. It may have been a member of the staff or someone else involved in the work of the Committee. That is a matter that the Committee of Privileges should investigate.

The more difficult matter that we shall have to consider, and which the Committee of Privileges will have to consider first, is the issue raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Sir I. Gilmour). Even if we cannot ascertain who was responsible for the particular leak, we must consider whether some action should be taken in relation to the press. In that context, I am bound to say that I suspect that there would be far fewer leaks from Select Committees if it were clearly understood that such leaks could not be published in the press.

Mr. Robert Kilroy-Silk (Knowsley, North)

I am chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on penal affairs. In the past six years we have published half a dozen major reports, each of them as complex and potentially controversial as the reports published by any Select Committee. There are Members in the Chamber now, on both sides, who have contributed to the working parties on those reports, but there has never been a leak although there was never any question of the sanction of privilege being used against any Member of Parliament or member of the press. To me, that is clear evidence that what is needed is not the sanction of the blunderbuss of privilege but the trust that exists among Members of all parties in the House. Without that trust, it does not matter whether we have privilege or whether sanctions can be imposed.

Mr. Higgins

I entirely accept that trust among members of the Committees is of the greatest importance. That is not in dispute. In my view, however, to ensure that the work of the Committees and the business of the House is not undermined, it is extremely important to make clear the rules concerning the printing of alleged or actual reports. I believe that it is important for the Committee of Privileges to consider the matter and to make clear what the rules are in respect of the press. It would also be very helpful to consider what should be the appropriate penalties for such breaches of privilege.

As I have said, it is not a matter of being pompous or over-sensitive. I am desperately concerned that the work of the Committees, which I believe to be of such great value, should not be undermined by leaks of this kind. Therefore, I strongly support the motion.

5.58 pm
Mr. Alan Williams (Swansea, West)

It is clear that there is considerable disquiet on both sides of the House about the fact that we could be in danger of creating scapegoats of journalists.

It is worth reminding the House that we are saying not that there has been a breach, but that there appears to have been a breach and that it should be investigated. We are not saying to the Committee of Privileges, "Take away those who are guilty and punish them." We are saying, "Establish the nature of the offence and make recommendations to the House." At the end of the day, it will still be for the House to decide the appropriate action.

It may seem rather simplistic, but I believe that if the House has rules it should abide by them or it should conscientiously abandon or modify them. It should not be left as a matter of individual default. If the rules are fraying at the edges, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) said—it is clear that this is a general feeling—it would be appropriate for the Committee of Privileges to consider whether the garment of our procedures is reparable. I hope that the Committee will take account of the misgivings expressed today about the danger that we could end up condemning the wrong target.

The newspaper was fulfilling its role by publishing the news as it saw and obtained it. The real culprit is probably a Member of the House. I make no apology for saying "culprit", because I believe that the Select Committees have been a valuable addition to the role of the Back Bencher. The capability of the House of Commons to interrogate the Executive has been made far stronger by the creation of the Select Committees, many of which have shown considerable independence. It is a pity that the culprit is in danger of going scot-free, skulking dishonourably, as he does, behind the hope that the journalists will conduct themselves with greater honour in not disclosing his name than he did in disclosing the contents of the report. Whoever is responsible is lacking not just in personal courage, but in consideration to his colleagues in the House—

Ms. Clare Short

Or she.

Mr. Williams

—because, in the process of indulging in the decision to ignore the rules of the House, he, or she—I do not wish to exclude my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) or any others from my comments—has cast doubts on the integrity of everyone else who had access to those documents—not just hon. Members, but the servants of the House. It must be a matter of considerable disquiet and concern to them when blame is attributed.

Therefore, I support the motion. However, I hope that, in the light of the debate, the Committee of Privileges will feel able to consider, in addition to the actual remit before it, the appropriateness and relevance of the procedures of the House as they now stand.

5.52 pm
The Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Biffen)

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) felt that proper regard and protection was not being given to local authority financial matters which will be considered next. I understand at once his anxiety, but I ask for his tolerance.

The House has been considering a matter of lively concern, touching on the relationships with the departmental Select Committees and on the honour and integrity of hon. Members and their relationship with the world outside, especially Fleet street. All that is embraced within this procedure motion. As the right hon. Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams) has properly pointed out, it is merely a question of whether we refer the matter to the Privileges Committee for adjudication or withhold the facility that is sought by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Fylde (Sir E. Gardner).

I have always believed it to be my role in these debates to speak but briefly and to bring matters to a conclusion. I shall therefore not dwell upon the merits that have been eloquently argued, except to say that I have felt a strong emotional sympathy with the points argued by the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot), for these are dangerous times. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that the House could be in grave danger of making a total fool of itself in these matters. That is a danger that permanently attends the House. We must therefore attend to the right hon. Gentleman's words with particular care.

It is perfectly true that there are dangers of arousing expectations that cannot conceivably be fulfilled. I suspect that gone for ever are the days when John Junor stood at the Bar of the House to be admonished by a suitably outraged House of Commons.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

Bring them back.

Mr. Biffen

The true reactionary opposite says, "Bring back that situation." I am a product of evolution. I know that that situation is beyond likely recall.

Because one cannot have totality of expectation, that does not mean that one can have no expectation at all. The question of privilege, as with so much else that concerns the House, is a question of graduated response, graduated ability and, above all, graduated expectation. The rules by which we operate run to much more than the mere Orders of the House, regulations or what you will; there are conventions that sustain our behaviour every bit as much as formal rules. The part played by privilege and the Privileges Committee and the judgment that the House forms with the Privileges Committee can have a real effect upon the conventions no less than upon the rules of the House. In that spirit of qualified and modified expectation, I wish my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Fylde well and commend his motion to the House.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 268, Noes 109.

Division No. 158] [5.56 pm
Alexander, Richard Cockeram, Eric
Alton, David Coleman, Donald
Ancram, Michael Colvin, Michael
Ashby, David Coombs, Simon
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Cope, John
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Corrie, John
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Couchman, James
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Crouch, David
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Currie, Mrs Edwina
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Baldry, Tony Dover, Den
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Dunn, Robert
Batiste, Spencer Durant, Tony
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Dykes, Hugh
Beith, A. J. Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Bellingham, Henry Evennett, David
Bendall, Vivian Eyre, Sir Reginald
Best, Keith Fallon, Michael
Bevan, David Gilroy Farr, Sir John
Biffen, Rt Hon John Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fletcher, Alexander
Bottomley, Peter Fookes, Miss Janet
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Forman, Nigel
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Forth, Eric
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Franks, Cecil
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Brinton, Tim Freeman, Roger
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Freud, Clement
Brooke, Hon Peter Fry, Peter
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Gale, Roger
Browne, John Galley, Roy
Bruinvels, Peter Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Buck, Sir Antony Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Budgen, Nick Garel-Jones, Tristan
Burt, Alistair Goodhart, Sir Philip
Butler, Hon Adam Gorst, John
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Gow, Ian
Cartwright, John Gower, Sir Raymond
Cash, William Grant, Sir Anthony
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Greenway, Harry
Chope, Christopher Grylls, Michael
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hannam, John
Hargreaves, Kenneth Monro, Sir Hector
Harris, David Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Harvey, Robert Moore, John
Haselhurst, Alan Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk) Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Hawksley, Warren Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Hayes, J. Murphy, Christopher
Hayhoe, Barney Neale, Gerrard
Hayward, Robert Needham, Richard
Henderson, Barry Neubert, Michael
Hickmet, Richard Nicholls, Patrick
Hicks, Robert Onslow, Cranley
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Oppenheim, Phillip
Hill, James Ottaway, Richard
Hirst, Michael Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Hordern, Peter Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Parris, Matthew
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Pattie, Geoffrey
Hunt, David (Wirral) Pawsey, James
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hunter, Andrew Penhaligon, David
Irving, Charles Pollock, Alexander
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Portillo, Michael
Jessel, Toby Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Powell, William (Corby)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Powley, John
Jones, Robert (W Herts) Price, Sir David
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Proctor, K. Harvey
Kennedy, Charles Rathbone, Tim
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)
Key, Robert Renton, Tim
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Rhodes James, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Kirkwood, Archy Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston) Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Knowles, Michael Roe, Mrs Marion
Knox, David Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)
Lamont, Norman Rossi, Sir Hugh
Lang, Ian Rost, Peter
Latham, Michael Rowe, Andrew
Lawler, Geoffrey Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Lawrence, Ivan Ryder, Richard
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lee, John (Pendle) Scott, Nicholas
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lightbown, David Shersby, Michael
Lilley, Peter Sims, Roger
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Skeet, T. H. H.
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Speed, Keith
Lord, Michael Spence, John
Lyell, Nicholas Spencer, Derek
McCrindle, Robert Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
McCurley, Mrs Anna Stanbrook, Ivor
Macfarlane, Neil Steen, Anthony
MacGregor, John Stern, Michael
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Maclean, David John Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Maclennan, Robert Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Stradling Thomas, J.
Major, John Sumberg, David
Malone, Gerald Taylor, John (Solihull)
Marland, Paul Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Marlow, Antony Temple-Morris, Peter
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Terlezki, Stefan
Mates, Michael Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Mather, Carol Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Maude, Hon Francis Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Thornton, Malcolm
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Thurnham, Peter
Meadowcroft, Michael Townend, John (Bridlington)
Mellor, David Tracey, Richard
Meyer, Sir Anthony Twinn, Dr Ian
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Miscampbell, Norman Viggers, Peter
Mitchell, David (NW Hants) Waddington, David
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Waldegrave, Hon William Winterton, Mrs Ann
Walker, Bill (T'side N) Winterton, Nicholas
Walters, Dennis Wood, Timothy
Wardell, Gareth (Gower) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Warren, Kenneth Yeo, Tim
Watson, John Young, Sir George (Acton)
Watts, John Younger, Rt Hon George
Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Wells, Sir John (Maidstone) Tellers for the Ayes:
Whitfield, John Mr. John Wheeler and
Wiggin, Jerry Mr. Jeremy Hanley.
Williams, Rt Hon A.
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Janner, Hon Greville
Anderson, Donald Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)
Barnett, Guy Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Barron, Kevin Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Loyden, Edward
Benn, Tony McCartney, Hugh
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Bidwell, Sydney McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty McKelvey, William
Boyes, Roland McNamara, Kevin
Bray, Dr Jeremy McWilliam, John
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Madden, Max
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Marek, Dr John
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Buchan, Norman Maxton, John
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Maynard, Miss Joan
Campbell, Ian Michie, William
Campbell-Savours, Dale Mikardo, Ian
Canavan, Dennis Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Clarke, Thomas Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Clay, Robert O'Brien, William
Clwyd, Mrs Ann O'Neill, Martin
Cohen, Harry Park, George
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Parry, Robert
Corbett, Robin Patchett, Terry
Corbyn, Jeremy Pike, Peter
Cowans, Harry Randall, Stuart
Crowther, Stan Redmond, M.
Cunliffe, Lawrence Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Richardson, Ms Jo
Dixon, Donald Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Dubs, Alfred Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Duffy, A. E. P. Robertson, George
Eastham, Ken Rooker, J. W.
Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE) Rowlands, Ted
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Ewing, Harry Skinner, Dennis
Fisher, Mark Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Flannery, Martin Snape, Peter
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Soley, Clive
Foster, Derek Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Foulkes, George Strang, Gavin
George, Bruce Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Godman, Dr Norman Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Gould, Bryan Torney, Tom
Grist, Ian Wareing, Robert
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Weetch, Ken
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Welsh, Michael
Harman, Ms Harriet Wilson, Gordon
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Winnick, David
Haynes, Frank
Heffer, Eric S. Tellers for the Noes:
Home Robertson, John Mr. Brian Sedgemore and
Hoyle, Douglas Mr. Tom Pendry.
Hughes, Roy (Newport East)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the matter of the complaint be referred to the Committee of Privileges.