HC Deb 22 February 1989 vol 147 cc1075-96
Mr. Corbett

I beg to move amendment No. 11, in page 8, line 24, after 'such', insert 'and has disclosed without official authorisation'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take amendment No. 12, in page 8, leave out lines 28 to 30 and insert `and the person discloses it knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that it is such as is mentioned in paragraph (a) above and is likely to be used without authority for the purpose mentioned in paragraph (b) above.'.

Mr. Corbett

The Minister has fair taken away the breath of the House with those two generous announcements, and I wonder whether I can tempt him to make it a hat trick. I want the Minister to understand that amendments Nos. 11 and 12 are not solely Opposition amendments and stand in the names of hon. Members from both sides of the House.

The clause is about disclosures which helped someone gain access to protected information. There is no harm test; the offence is disclosure where it would be reasonable to expect that lawfully held information might somehow be used by a person to whom it is passed to get at protected information.

Clause 8 applies to any information and is not limited to categories of information that are protected under the Bill. The legally held information need not have been leaked. It would apply to information which a civil servant disclosed with proper authorisation, or even to information published in an official report sold by HMSO. That is possible. If it is not possible the Minister will tell me. The Minister may well say that it is very unlikely, but I do not want to know that, as in paragraph 14 of the White Paper the Government's aim is that there should be no uncertainty as to whether people risked prosecution.

The nub of our objection is that the person who passes on the information which he or she legally holds commits an offence even if he or she has no reason to believe that the person receiving the information is likely to use it improperly, so the holder of the information has to guess at the intentions of others. 1 accept that ultimately that would be a matter for the courts, but none the less the offence is too widely drawn and relies too much on guess-work about the intentions of another person.

I shall give the Minister and the House a couple of examples. It is not unknown for people to be walking by the side of canals or rivers or around the areas of rubbish dumps—it has been well reported—and to find batches of secret information. The good citizen in those circumstances would look at the documents and say, "What shall I do with these?". He may sweep them up and walk home with them. He is then faced with a range of choices. One option would be to phone the local police station. The citizen may say, "1 do not know the value of these papers or who they belong to because there is no clue." Such papers do not often say, "Home Office" or "John Patten's Office".

Let us assume that the documents have the word "Secret" stamped all over them. The citizen may think, "I know what, I'll phone ITN." He may not do that for any malevolent reason but simply because he thinks that that organisation would know what to do. He may believe that it would pick up the telephone and speak to the Minister of State's Office and say, "We have some documents. We think that they belong to you so please come and get them." That may not be done for malevolent reasons or for financial gain but purely to return the papers, which, clearly, should not be on the side of a canal, to the person responsible for them. Under the clause as drafted, if a good citizen passed such documents to ITN and ITN let the side down by saying, "Holy smoke, there's a real cracker here and we should do something about it."—let us assume that the D notice committee does not hear about it—the good citizen could be in trouble. He or she may have no idea of the intentions of the person to whom the documents were handed.

Somebody travelling on a train from the golden city of Birmingham to Euston may overhear a conversation between two people who seem to be members of the Security Service who are talking more loudly than they should about their work. That person may get bored with the conversation and go to buy a bacon sandwich—I think that British Rail has stopped making bacon sandwiches. He may say to the man in the buffet, "I heard two spooks talking about their work." Under the Bill as drafted, the mere fact that he said that means that he may have committed an offence and risk prosecution. Those are open-ended offences which should not be in the Bill. Our two amendments seek to narrow the offence.

The first amendment seeks to limit the offence to passing on information disclosed without official authority. Passing on information that has been officially published would not be an offence. That should be the Government's intention if they do not want to look even more stupid than they do now. The second amendment means that no offence would be committed unless the holder of the authorised information knows that it was held by a Crown servant, that it was disclosed without authority and that it is likely to be used to obtain access to protected information. The clause as drafted does not lay that test. The clause uses the words: it would be reasonable to expect. It does not say who would make the test of reasonableness or how it would he applied.

Perhaps the Minister would give examples of the specific problems that clause 8(6) is designed to guard against. If he cannot, the amendments should be accepted.

Mr. John Patten

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett) and his right hon. and hon. Friends who support the amendment are attempting to raise the threshold for the offence. He described accurately what he is trying to do and perhaps he will correct me if my understanding is wrong.

The two amendments apply the access offence in clause 8(6). Amendment No. 11 is a paving amendment for amendment No. 12 because it introduces a preliminary step in the offence requiring that the Crown servant or the Government contractor in whose possession the information was had disclosed that information without authority. That theme has run throughout all our debates. The intention is clear and I would not argue about the wording.

Amendment No. 12 requires the prosecution to say that the discloser knew or had reasonable cause to believe that the information had been disclosed by a Crown servant or a delinquent Government contractor without authority and that it was likely to be used to obtain unauthorised access to protected information.

The two amendments turn the test of use from one of expectation to one of knowledge. It would not be much use, if the Bill prohibited the disclosure of protected information, if a person could avoid responsibility by telling someone how to obtain information for themselves. That is what would happen. The hon. Gentleman's amendments would ensure that neither the discloser nor the recipient would be liable for any offence. Clause 8(6) closes that loophole and the amendments, to some extent, reopen it. The hon. Gentleman is wrong. The objective of the offence is to prevent people obtaining unauthorised access to protected information.

Mr. Corbett


Mr. Patten

The hon. Gentleman said, "Yes" and he has explained his intentions clearly. However, amendment No. 11 is misconceived.

What matters is the misuse of the official information, not whether it was originally disclosed without authority. Surely there are no circumstances in which a Crown servant would be authorised to disclose information that might provide unauthorised access to protected information.

Mr. Corbett

What about the rubbish dump scenario and accidental access?

Mr. Patten

Accidental access would undoubtedly be protected by the harm test. Accidental access could not be an offence because there would be no way of proving that the person wished to make available to someone else, with the intention of causing damage, information which he or she had stumbled upon on the edge of a rubbish dump. The hon. Gentleman is simply repeating the fruitless search for the honest whistleblower and is now replacing that motif with the honest stumbler over information on the edge of rubbish dumps. That example does not help the proper understanding of clause 8.

It is pretty far-fetched and imaginative in the extreme to suggest that the Government would publish information that would give access to protected material. That was another point that was implicit in what the hon. Member for Erdington said. What is really relevant to the offence is that the individual has reason to know that the information he discloses might be used to gain unauthorised access to protected information. That requirement is already in the Bill and it is reinforced by the need for the prosecution to show that, in the circumstances of the disclosure, it was reasonable to expect that it should have that effect. That seems to reflect more accurately the circumstances in which such offences might be committed.

Questions about official authorisation and whether the person disclosing the information had reason to believe that it had been officially authorised for disclosure only take attention away from the essential element of the offence itself, which is to prevent someone giving someone else the nod and wink about how to gain access to unauthorised information and to escape any penalty for so doing. I do not believe that any hon. Member believes that that would help to protect the official secrets of the realm, where they need protection. What matters is not official authorisation, which might or might not be relevant to the particular disclosure, but whether the person disclosing the information did so in circumstances in which he had reason to expect—which is the critical point—that it might be used to give access to protected information.

It being Nine o'clock, MR. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the order [13 February] and the Resolutions this day, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Amendment negatived.

Order for Third Reading read.

9 pm

Mr. Hurd

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

The House has spent six days—all on the Floor of the House—on an important Bill of 16 clauses. I do not think that, in retrospect, that will be found niggardly. The two main issues of contention identified by critics of the Bill were, first. the absolute offence for members and former members of the intelligence and security services and, secondly, the principle of a public interest defence. Both issues were discussed at length and without restriction.

We have seen a devoted and articulate band of critics, from all parties, coming together against certain aspects of the Bill. Those critics have not, of course, opposed the proposal to free the great bulk of official information from the criminal law so that the great majority of civil servants will, if the Bill becomes law, hardly ever possess information that will come within its scope. That is a substantial change. The critics have not opposed the proposal that there should be harm tests in, for example, foreign affairs and defence which now, for the first time, will have to be surmounted before prosecution can succeed. They have not opposed the proposal that there should be no ministerial certificates and that the jury should decide.

What the critics have been doing is urging us to do more, to go further down the road, to make the hurdles higher and to introduce new forms of defence within the narrow area still to be protected. They have done that overwhelmingly because of the particular person whom they continually conjure up before us—the vision of the whistleblower, the conscientious civil servant who is asked to do something wrong. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) gave perhaps the most vivid description of that person a few hours ago. Such a person can exist and it is right, wherever possible, that there should be safeguards and remedies open to him. But the House cannot be expected to build the whole structure of the law around that person. He is not the only pebble on the beach.

That is why the argument from the critics has been unbalanced. Yet that argument has dominated most of the debate. A balance must be struck because the information that we believe must be protected needs to be protected—not to save Ministers from embarrassment or to safeguard some vague concept of public interest, but to enable certain services of the Crown to protect the citizens of this country against certain specific evils, such as terrorism, crime and espionage. Where that has to be done, it should be done effectively.

In the areas defined by the Bill, information disclosed can cause serious damage—I use the word "serious" deliberately.

Mr. Corbett

What about "serious damage"?

Mr. Hurd

I am coming to that—as I have come to it so often. I used the word "serious" deliberately, knowing that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett) would be spry in interjecting, because I believe in the narrowed categories of test as defined in the Bill. I believe that harm could be serious without the further need for qualifying it as such in the various harm tests in the Bill.

Perhaps because the critics' arguments have tended to be unbalanced, they have not made decisive headway. Nevertheless, they have strong assets. They have their own strong talents and the fact that many of them, as Privy Councillors, have under our rules rightly been prominent in debate. They have also had the support of a powerful section of the press, which has often emitted more smoke than light. Of course, the press has a perfectly legitimate interest in maximum disclosure, so no one should be surprised by that. Despite all those formidable assets, however, the critics have not been able to mobilise more than a certain level of support—[Interruption.] I hope that no one will try to tell me about the power of the Whips, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst) did earlier when lie referred to the ignorant majority. I know the limits on the power of the Whips, having stood at the Dispatch Box and seen a Government measure come apart in my hands—[HON. MEMBERS: "Yes, this is it."]—despite all the power of the Whips to sustain it on Second Reading.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

The Shops Bill deserved to fall apart.

Mr. Hurd

I believe that my hon. Friend will agree with what I have been saying. If the whole House believes that the Government have got their basic judgments wrong about a measure, it will make that belief felt—especiallly when every word in the argument has been spoken on the Floor of the House, as has been the case with this Bill.

Mr. Budgen

Is not the problem that if a Bill is bashed through quickly there is not the opportunity for the House to respond to public opinion? In the case of the devolution measures that went through the House 10 years ago. public opinion in the end changed and, as it changed, it affected opinion in this House. By bashing the Bill through so unnecessarily, my right hon. Friend and the Government do not know what the people of this country believe about it.

Mr. Hurd

I must beg leave to differ with my hon. Friend. The process has seemed almost interminable. We had the White Paper, a debate on the White Paper arid then the Bill, with long processes of discussion and debate for many months, so "bashing through" is certainly not what has occurred. Time for the play of public opinion has been substantial. My hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills began the process with his private Member's Bill. There has been at least a year—indeed, more than a year—for the processes that my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) describes to have their effect.

Mr. Jonathan Sayeed (Bristol, East)


Mr. Rooker


Mr. Hurd

I shall give way to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) because he has been here throughout the debate.

Mr. Rooker

The real test of public opinion—this is where the Home Secretary will come to rue the day that he rushed the Bill through—was not the White Paper or the Bill. It will be the first trial, when the whole damned thing will blow up in his and the Government's face.

Mr. Hurd

I am content to wait for that day because one of the root elements of the Bill has been to transfer more power to the jury than was the case under previous proposals.

Mr. Hind


Mr. Hurd

I want to get on as I promised to take only 10 minutes.

Mr. Budgen

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary should realise that my hon. Friend the Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind) is his only friend in the House.

Mr. Hurd

I shall not say, like Mr. Neville Chamberlain, that I have my friends, because that usually ends in tears.

Mr. Hind


Mr. Hurd

No, before I close I shall return to the theme that has been behind almost the whole of the debate for more than a year. I refer to what I would describe as the myth of obsessive secrecy. There can be few critics of the Bill who have not used some such phrase.

My hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, South (Mr. Aitken) personalised that argument in debating the Bill last week by referring to my background. He was polite, as he almost always is, and he described me as a mandarin. As it happens, before I was a mandarin I was a son and grandson of Members of the House, both of whom spent many years as journalists, so my background is not wholly dissimilar from that of my hon. Friend, albeit less celebrated. I assure my hon. Friend that the main difference that has occurred since I started as a small mandarin in 1952 has been precisely the spread of information flowing out of Whitehall. That is the biggest single change under all Governments, and it is continuing. It is a particular change that I see in my present Department. The great increase in the workload of my Department is, in large part, due to the disclosure, publication, defence and explanation of information which was previously held tight. That is true in relation to prisons and immigration, and it is increasingly true of the police. I welcome it and I acknowledge that much of it has been extracted by the press and by the Select Committees and proceedings of this House. I repeat that I welcome that. I believe that the process has some way to go and that the Bill makes an important contribution to it.

This is a task that has baffled several Governments. It baffled the Government of my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), who received the Franks report but had no time to do anything about it because of the 1974 election. My right hon. Friend would certainly have done something about it, but it is equally certain that what he would have done would have been on the basis of conclusive ministerial certificates. For five long years, it baffled the Labour Government of 1974–79, who left behind the White Paper, which again rested on conclusive ministerial certificates. It also baffled the present Government in their first year or two. Now we have a chance collectively to get it right and to get it through.

Far from making the Government the arbiter in these matters, the Bill reduces the present wide, vast role of the prosecuting authorities. It asks Parliament to define the harm and it asks the jury, without ministerial interference, to conclude whether the harm has been done. I believe that, among the reforms introduced by the present Government, this is one of the most substantial and I hope that the House will give it a Third Reading.

9.12 pm
Mr. Hattersley

I appreciate that the rules of order governing a Third Reading debate have put the Home Secretary at some disadvantage. Those rules require that speeches do not deal with matter that is not contained in the Bill. Yet since the Bill was published the Home Secretary's speeches have concentrated largely on material that does not appear in this legislation, usually pretending that it did.

The process of misrepresentation of the Bill's contents began when the Home Office handout, purporting to describe the Bill, referred to specific tests of harm to the public interest". As we have discovered after the limited debate that the Government have allowed, the phrase "public interest" does not appear in the Bill. Nor are any of its clauses built on the concept of public interest.

But the concept of harm does appear, and I shall spend the limited time that the guillotine allows me examining whether the concept of harm as it appears in the Bill enables the Home Secretary to claim with anything like plausibility that his proposals pass the central test of official secrets legislation.

That test can easily be defined. In a free society, official secrets legislation should protect information that, were it to become widely available, would jeopardise the security of the nation. It should not, however, embrace or include information that can be made public without damaging the national interest, whether or not the publication of that information embarrasses the Government of the day.

That is central to the principle on which much of the argument in Committee and on Report was based—an argument in which the Home Secretary has never chosen to join—which is the contention that the Government are not the nation, that the national interest is not necessarily synonymous with the Government's interest and that the courts, rather than the Government, should decide where the national interest lies.

Those principles are all essential to democracy. After all the time spent on discussion and debate, about which the Home Secretary spoke with such pride, we still have no idea whether the Government share the view I described, or whether the Home Secretary believes that he has introduced legislation that properly distinguishes between national and Government interest. He has by implication continually rejected all the principles advanced by hon. Members by his refusal even to contemplate a public interest defence for those accused of revealing official secrets. At the same time, the right hon. Gentleman has attempted to create the impression—at least outside the House—that the so-called harm test is in some way proof and demonstration of the Bill's moderation.

The claim that the Bill suppresses only information that, were it to be revealed, would jeopardise the national interest is built on that simple idea—a concept that the Home Secretary variously calls "serious damage", "serious injury", and "serious harm". None of those terms accurately describes anything that appears in the Bill. When attempts were made specifically to insert into the Bill the word "serious", to qualify harm, injury or damage, the Home Secretary always resisted. Tonight, in his most recent and final speech—until the Lords improve the Bill—he told the House that the harm or damage must be serious, and was giggling when he remembered that, although that is what he told the House, "serious" is not a word that he will allow into the Bill.

The Home Secretary sought to bolster his arguments over the adjective "serious" with language that a more confident and scrupulous man would not employ. A recent example of the Home Secretary attempting to make words mean whatever he wished them to mean appeared in The Daily Telegraph last Saturday. I quote his words exactly: Under the new Bill, prosecutions must, in most cases, prove to a jury that serious damage has been done, in terms defined by the Bill. No doubt the parentheses "in most cases" and in terms defined by the Bill were intended as qualifications so extreme and substantial that the meaning of the sentence was, on analysis, quite different from that which the casual reader supposed. That is a pretty disreputable technique in itself. But even when that disreputable linguistic practice has been recognised as such, the Home Secretary's statement is wrong. The idea that the Bill prohibits only the publication of official information when serious harm is done, or is even likely to be done, does not stand up to a moment's examination.

All information covered by clause 1 is expressly excluded from all tests of harm. Any man or woman employed by the security services is required now and for ever to maintain absolute confidentiality about every aspect of their work, as are men and women notified by the Government that they are obliged to maintain lifelong confidentiality. For them, there is no test of harm. For them, there is no question of judging whether or not the information they revealed is damaging to the national interest—or is inconsequential, trivial or even meaningless.

Members of the security services and those associated with them are allowed to publish anything about their work only when the Government agree that they should do so. Nobody doubts why that rule applies. The Government want to be able to allow and promote books that are to their political advantage, and suppress books that are politically embarrassing. If there is a test for harm in that area, the test for publication is the test of whether harm will be done to the Government's political reputation.

There is a test of harm in other areas, but as to the Bill itself—and contrary to what the Home Secretary persistently says about it—no reasonable person could believe that the test of harm relates to serious harm and to serious harm alone. I take as my example clause 2(2)(a) where the concept of damage, which, rightly or wrongly, the Home Secretary equates with serious harm, is defined. A damaging disclosure is said to be any disclosure which prejudices the capability of, or any part of, the armed forces of the Crown to carry out their tasks". We learnt in Committee that that definition applies to all the armed forces' tasks, no matter how trivial or inconsequential, no matter whether or not they are even related to the national interest or could reasonably be defined as assisting the national interest or damaging it. The idea that the definition of harm, as specified in clause 2 and related to the armed forces, contains any serious protection for those who might inadvertently allow inconsequential or trivial information to appear in the public domain is nonsense.

I cannot believe that the Home Secretary, with his expensive education and all the prizes about which he keeps telling profile writers, does not realise that what he claims to be in the Bill does not appear in it. I cannot believe that it is a genuine error. He must know that his claims for the Bill are substantially, materially and grossly different from what the Bill contains on analysis of its clauses.

I am reinforced in that belief by the Home Secretary's demeanour and performance. Throughout the debate he has avoided, rather than meet face on, the arguments of his critics. He has been an accessory to the guillotine and he has exploited it on every occasion to avoid giving serious answers to serious questions. In my 25 years in the House. where I have seen Governments of both persuasions anxious in adverse circumstances to slip legislation through with the minimum of debate, I have never seen a measure that was so opposed by some Government Back Benchers and so little supported by the rest. I have never seen a ministerial parliamentary private secretary running around attempting to get Government Back Benchers to read from the Home Secretary's notes and failing to persuade them to do so.

What I have seen throughout the debate that we are about to conclude has been a shabby performance by the Government; they knew that they could not win the arguments on their merits and, therefore, took refuge in every device that was open to them. I have no doubt that they will get their majority tonight, but it will be a shabby victory and the Government will pay for it in the long run.

9.22 pm
Mr. Amery

When my right hon. Friend replied to the debate on new clause 1 he tried to draw a distinction between procedure and policy. I do not think that anyone who listened to him or who studies the matter can believe that there is such a difference. The assurances that I was given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State detailed how authorisation would be given Then my right hon. Friend said, yes, but the policy was different. It was the procedure on the one hand and the policy on the other. I do not think that we can seriously reconcile the two.

Where do we stand? We have a repudiation by my right hon. Friend of assurances given by my hon. Friend. Perhaps we should not be too surprised about that. If my right hon. Friend had come back to the Dispatch Box and reassured us that we could rely on the assurances given by my hon. Friend, he would have kicked away the whole basis on which the Peter Wrights, the Cavendishes and the other cases were based. There is a difficulty for the Government. If they kick away a pebble, they may bring down the whole arch on which the Government's policy is based. I do not see that the House should accept that view of the architecture on which our policy is to be determined.

I very much regret that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has gone so far in repudiating the assurances given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State. What are we to do about this? We know perfectly well that the Bill must be accepted, but I regret that, because the future of our defence administration—which to some extent depends on the secret services—may be weakened.

I have been careful during these debates never to oppose what my right hon. Friend tries to do if I can help it. However, we must face up to the fact that the Trappist vow of lifelong confidentiality cannot work in a democratic society. Of course, it can work if the Trappist monk has made his vow to God, but who can say what God will decide? I have great regard for my right hon. Friend, but I cannot regard him—or even the "Ayatollah" or higher responsibility to which he has to bow—as God. Therefore, I find the Bill difficult, perhaps impossible, to accept.

I have been a Member for a long time and I have quite often been a Cassandra, and nothing is more boring than saying "I told you so". Tonight I am trying to say, "I am telling you what is going to happen". If the Bill is passed as drafted there will be a number of cases—perhaps even during my right hon. Friend's tenure of office—that will discomfit him or the Government. I do not know whose memoirs it will be—perhaps those of the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) who is not present or perhaps some quite insignificant man will write his memoirs or publish an account of what he has done—but it will be very difficult to proceed against him in court when he will be able to claim various reasons why he should have made his disclosures.

It is too late tonight to ask my right hon. Friend to disclaim what he has already laid down. All I would say is that from the beginning I have tried to help him by putting forward my suggestions, which were accepted by my hon. Friend the Minister of State. I tried to throw the Government a lifeline, but I recognise the difficulties that they would have faced if they had accepted it. Perhaps they have accepted it in part, and, when decisions are taken in court or elsewhere, perhaps some of what has been said in the House—and to which my hon. Friend the Minister agreed—will rub off; I hope so.

I have some experience of defence and foreign affairs, and I could not bring myself to vote against the Government on the entire Bill. However, I hope that my right hon. Friend will understand that in the circumstances and after what I have been exposed to—double dealing? I would not want to call it that—I cannot support him tonight. On Second Reading I said that I would support the Government if they gave me the right assurances. They gave them, but then they took them back, so I hope that my right hon. Friend will understand that when I abstain tonight it will not be with any spirit of malevolence.

9.29 pm
Mr. Maclennan

The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) has played a role in this debate rather like Hamlet when confronted by Polonius. The right hon. Member seems to have said, "Methinks I see yon cloud in the shape of a camel." "Very like a camel," says Polonius. "Methinks it's like a whale," says the right hon. Member for Pavilion. "Very like a whale," says the Home Secretary. The Home Secretary will agree with anything to command the right hon. Gentleman's vote. Many of the Home Secretary's remarks have sounded as if they were made by Polonius. If he continues to play Polonius to the Claudius of this Government, he may find himself stabbed behind the arras.

The Home Secretary rather gave the game away when he opened the debate. In a throwaway line, he said that the press has a great interest and a natural interest in maximising the disclosure of information. Do we not all have that interest? Is that not why we subscribe to article 10 of the European convention on human rights which guarantees our freedom of information? Is that not why Lord Goff of Chieveley in the "Spycatcher" case said in the House of Lords: Although in the case of the private citizen there is a public interest that confidential information should as such be protected, in the case of Government secrets, the mere fact of confidentiality does not alone support such a conclusion because in a free society there is a continuing public interest that the workings of Government would be open to scrutiny and criticism"? The truth is that the Home Secretary has tackled the problem which he says has been ducked by other Governments, not through any desire to widen the disclosure of information, but as a straight response to the disclosures of the "Spycatcher" case. He has acted in this way because of the "Spycatcher" case. He has rightly recognised that there are certain public interests in maintaining security. Those exceptions are set out in the article 10 provisions of the European convention. However, he has surrounded the exceptions with such definitions as to extend the scope far beyond what is necessary in the interests of the security of the state.

I know that I must be brief, so I will give only one example. The Home Secretary's definitions of international relations are so broad and all-encompassing that almost any matter considered by Government will fall foul of those exceptions because we discuss those matters in our daily dealings with the European Community. If those matters are considered in that forum or are leaked abroad, the full weight of the criminal law—two years' imprisonment—can befall the leaker.

The Home Secretary recognised the most serious point in his opening speech. His proposals prevent those who are conscious of iniquity in the public service from disclosing that information. The Bill makes it a crime to reveal crime. I do not see how that can stand. I hope that another place will reconsider that. The arguments have been deployed extensively in this place, but they were not answered extensively. We look to the Lords, including some of the Law Lords who sat on the "Spycatcher" case—such defenders of our free speech—to bring to the consideration of these matters an objectivity which the Home Secretary, wrapped up in the net of secrecy which the Government cast over all their doings, cannot.

If the Home Secretary is right, I cannot see why he finds it necessary so to misrepresent the provisions of the Bill as he has misrepresented them now. I need not repeat the quotations from The Daily Telegraph of Saturday. Those words merely compounded the Home Secretary's frequent misrepresentation of the nature, purpose and effect of this Bill. He has referred constantly to the serious-damage tests that must be applied before the sanction of the criminal law is invoked. He knows—we have debated the matter extensively—how to import that concept, which he says he embraces, into the Bill. We had the benefit of the right hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees), who was on the Franks committee, reminding us—if we needed to be reminded—that that was the very nub of the test that Franks had applied as long ago as 1972.

We have failed to persuade the Home Secretary that those words should appear in the Bill. I hope that they will appear when it comes back from another place. At least they would cut down the all-embracing, all-encompassing impact of this widely drafted clamp-down on our freedom of speech.

This has been something of a charade on the part of the Home Secretary—the pretence that this is a liberalising measure. As he has acknowledged, the provisions of section 2 of the Official Secrets Act have rarely been invoked; in fact, that part of the Act could almost be regarded as having fallen into desuetude. This new piece of legislation, if it goes through, will be used to try to bottle up information whose disclosure might be in the public interest—matters concerning, for example, the public safety, the public weal, matters that concern the Father of the House, to whose amendment the right hon. Gentleman gave no adequate answer.

This is a constitutional measure meriting more than six days' debate in this House. Cutting down our freedom of speech merits more than six days' consideration, and that is why the House has taken so badly the Home Secretary's pretence that it is a liberalising measure. It is nothing of the kind; it curtails our liberties, and it will do his reputation no good. I believe that it will be in vain because it is fundamentally opposed to the provisions of article 10 of the European convention. Certainly the view that was expressed in the "Spycatcher" case by more than one of their Lordships is an indication that if these issues come before the European Court this measure will be struck down as being inappropriate and quite out of conformity with our international commitments. Their Lordships have a heavy and important task. It should have fallen to this elected House to ensure that the task was completed. Alas, it is not so.

9.38 pm
Mr. Tim Devlin (Stockton, South)

This will be a short speech, as time is limited. I voted against the Government's three-line Whip when my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) introduced his private Member's Bill. Since the introduction of this Bill I have supported it at every stage, and it may be helpful to my hon. Friends—those who are still not in agreement with the Bill—if I tell them why my mind is so made up.

Under the present law, the prosecution has only to prove that an unauthorised disclosure of information gained in the course of certain employment has taken place. Thus, for instance, a clerk working at the Department of Social Security office in Stockton-on-Tees commits an offence if he or she discloses the colour of the carpet in that office. All information, no matter how trivial, is classified, and the consequences of disclosure are a dire thing, a criminal offence.

For that reason, overhaul of the legislation was long overdue. My hon. Friend's Bill was a good attempt at reform. Without it, and without the rebellion that supported it, the Government might have been tempted to do as all Governments have done—found the balance of convenience in favour of doing nothing. We might pose to ourselves the question that Abraham Lincoln posed to Congress: Must a Government, of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence? I believe not, and I believe that this Bill is evidence of that.

The Bill is a liberal measure and is to be welcomed for that reason. Under the Bill, a jury can convict only when it has been persuaded that a disclosure has caused specified harm or is likely to cause such harm. For that very reason, there is no need of an overriding defence of prior publication or public interest. If no harm is done, or the benefit outweighs the harm, the jury should not convict.

The Bill will effectively protect the nation's secrets while opening up a significant new province of information to the public. It is consistent with the principle of rolling back the frontiers of the state and curbing the power of the Executive, which so many Conservative Members hold to be clear and central planks of our policy. The final resolution in a matter of degree is always a difficult process. There are those who say that it should be more restrictive and those who say that it should be more liberal. A line has to be drawn somewhere and the provisions of the Bill explained to an uncomplicated and sceptical public. The Bill, if not perfect, is a good measure, and should therefore be supported.

9.41 pm
Mr. Foot

Only an hon. Member who had attended so few of our debates over the past few days could have reached the conclusions reached by the hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin). I prefer to refer to the speech of the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery). Those on the Government Front Bench looked uneasy under his questioning, not only because of the way in which he was led to vote for Second Reading but because of the questions that he is still posing, to which he has still got no answers. Even if those on the Government Front Bench and some of those on the Government Back Benches do not heed what the right hon. Gentleman said—credit belongs to those who do heed it—many will study what the right hon. Gentleman said. By the time the Bill gets to the other place, there may be an answer to his question.

The Home Secretary went over the history of attempts to deal with measures such as this. If I remember correctly, he said, "We have a chance collectively to get it right". He might have said that at the beginning of our debates, but he cannot seriously mean it at the end of them. I say that as one who has listened to pretty well every sentence uttered during the Bill's proceedings. Some of the debates have been curtailed in a manner that is an offence to the House of Commons. Many provisions have been pushed through in a manner that is utterly abhorrent, particularly when we are dealing with a Bill that carries such large implications for the future. By any comparison and by any reckoning, the way that the Bill has been pushed through is a disgrace to the House of Commons, to the Government, and to those in this place who have tolerated the passage of such matters through the House by such means.

Major questions have not been resolved, and the Home Secretary cannot pretend that they have been. For example, there are all the matters associated with the supposed claim of lifelong confidentiality, implied at the beginning of the Bill, about which the questions of the right hon. Member for Pavilion are so pertinent and about which many other questions have been asked. If the Bill had been law when Winston Churchill wrote his memoirs, they could not have been produced in anything like the form in which they were presented to the nation. If the Home Secretary has an answer to that point, which has been made so often, he should have given it to us.

The effects of the Bill deriving from this provision will alter the relationship between the Executive and Parliament, and affect our democracy and how information may be given to the British nation. All these points are touched on in the question posed by the right hon. Member for Pavilion, to which he has had no answer. We have discussed premature disclosure. I hope that we have made some dent in the Home Secretary's certainty.

I fully acknowledge that this is a serious matter for the newspapers of this country. I thought that we were to get from the right hon. Gentleman an idea of how to get a compromise that will work. If he was serious in what he said at the end of his speech about wanting a collective settlement of the matter, that is one aspect in which he should have searched for it. Of course, if the Government had considered our debates and taken account of what hon. Members have said, we could have had a compromise between the demand of those who say that there should be no claim of premature disclosure and those who argue at the opposite extreme.

All responsible editors in Fleet street who have talked about these matters could have had a clause which protected the defence and rights of this country but which still protected, as far as we possibly can, the right to print information, to print the facts, and to print them in a way that must take account of what has been published before. Otherwise what would happen to the judgment in the "Spycatcher" case?

As the Home Secretary said, the "Spycatcher" conclusion was one reason for the Bill. Throughout our discussions, the Government have failed to meet the argument about the conclusions of the "Spycatcher" case and the reason the judges concluded that they must decide against the Government. They said that it would be madness and folly for them to say that it was wrong for newspapers to publish what had been published all over the world. The right hon. Gentleman is now saying that the conclusion of the "Spycatcher" case is that all that must be restored to the position that prevailed before. The Minister has accepted not the majority of judges but the minority of judges in that case.

After all our debates, that is a monstrous way for the House of Commons to deal with a serious matter. Like many hon. Members, I have much faith in the other place. This is one occasion when our counterparts can come to the rescue not of the Government—they are not worth saving—but of the country. I hope that our colleagues in another place will examine these matters in great detail. I hope that they will look at all the clauses that have been truncated in discussion here, take account of the way in which the Government have sought to deny full debate, and send back to the House a reputable Bill that can do what the Government have said that they want to do, which is to have a collective discussion in the House of Commons and the country about how we should deal with it.

The opportunity for a collective discussion has been forfeited by the guillotine, the form of the Bill, and the way in which the Prime Minister forced on the right hon. Gentleman the detailed clauses—the "Spycatcher" clauses—of the Bill. The combination of clause 1 and the other clauses dealing with disclosure mean that this is a much more ferociously anti-liberal Bill than the measures that prevailed before. That is what the right hon. Gentleman has presented to the House of Commons, and that is what the other place should throw out.

9.49 pm
Mr. Gorst

Among the central features of the Government's argument is that, to quote the words of the Minister of State in the press this morning, the Bill vastly reduces the scope of the criminal law. If that is the Government's view, it misses the point—either because it is tantamount to arguing that a change from bad to bad is better than no change at all, or that, having made a change, it must be a change for the better.

In truth, there has indeed been a change—a change both for the better and for the worse. Although the Bill vastly reduces the scope for successful prosecutions, it sows a whole range of new doubts as to what may or may not be published, thereby inhibiting without prohibiting. So instead of the draconian and obnoxious clarity of the previous Official Secrets Act, we shall have a new regime of uncertainty. That confusion and doubt will have the effect of suppressing publication of unquantifiable amounts of information which were previously entirely legitimate. A handful of daring editors may decide to publish and be damned, but for every courageous or reckless challenge there are likely to be a hundred—perhaps a thousand-timid and cautious decisions to spike the story and be spared.

Some people in Government circles may be happy to argue—even perhaps with a modicum of justification—that tighter security will flow from this legal form of stealthy deterrence, and that may well be so, but that is not the only consideration for Parliament. We have to weigh one unproven benefit against several evident disadvantages—disadvantages which are not obviously justified by commensurate gains. The Government have argued for drawing a line in the wrong place—they have erred in favour of stringency where freedom of expression is both defensible and essential. When Governments curtail the flow of information, they are tampering with the raw material of democracy. No democracy can survive in a vacuum of ignorance—for its survival it must feed on facts and information. Democratic electorates do not need just the good news—they must be able to censure the mediocre and the inefficient and to castigate the evil.

There is no dispute that some categories of information must not—perhaps may never—be revealed, but every attempt to restrict information requires close examination. The Bill has not been given the careful and sceptical scrutiny that is called for. Ministers may have been courteous and patient in their answers—there have, indeed, been plenty of answers—but time and again it has seemed that the argument between those who have taken the Government view and those who have thought differently was essentially about exactly where the line should properly be drawn. On the one hand, one has asked what constitutes a justifiable exposure of information. On the other, the question has been what should be a culpable and punishable revelation. To permit or to prohibit, that has been the question. Whether it is in the public interest to have the record straight, or, by so doing, harm it. For my part, I come down on the side of freedom of expression. I am against the imposition of a regime of stealthy suppression and I shall vote against the Third Reading of the Bill.

9.53 pm
Ms. Abbott

We have heard the Secretary of State in the Chamber and on the radio define the Bill as a great reforming measure. He has talked especially about how the Bill has limited and narrowed the scope of the existing legislation. Unlike the hon. Member for Southport—[HON. MEMBERS: "Stockton."]—the hon. Member for Stockton who, not having attended most of the Committee stage, came with his speech already drafted by the Whips, I want to say succinctly and in my own words that it will not do for the Secretary of State to boast that the Bill is a great reforming measure. In the first place, his boast that he has dropped the idea of ministerial certificates will not wash because, although the Bill contains no mention of ministerial certificates on information, by the notion of notified people, it introduces ministerial certificates on people. The notion of ministerial certificates on information has been exchanged for certificates on people.

It will not do to boast that the Bill is a reforming measure when it introduces the notion of lifelong confidentiality that Mr. Justice Lawson described as something which could not be achieved this side of the Iron Curtain. It will not do to boast that this Bill is a reforming measure because it narrows the number of offences covered since, under the 1911 Act, there were no fewer than 2,314 offences with which people could be charged. Therefore, it is hardly likely that the Bill would widen the scope of the 1911 Act.

The content and the manner in which the Bill has been forced through has revealed a Government careless of power. They will win tonight, but, as one of their hon. Friends has said, they will win by the exercise of an ignorant majority.

Mr. Frank Cook (Stockton, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms. Abbott), made reference to the hon. Member for Stockton and I would like to make it clear that she was referring to the hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin). Upon being referred to, that hon. Gentleman made a two-fingered gesture in her direction. I disassociate myself from that gesture, but associate myself with the remarks that my hon. Friend was justified in making.

Mr. Devlin

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I assure you that no such gesture was made—[Interruption.]

Mr. Cook


Mr. Buchan


Mr. Speaker

Order. I remind the House that it is five minutes to 10 o'clock.

Mr. Buchan

Further to that point of order Mr. Speaker. You know me of old, Mr. Speaker, and I also saw that gesture and was offended by it.

Mr. Devlin

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I assure you and the House that no such gesture was made.

Mr. John Patten


Mr. Buchan


Mr. Speaker

Order. I did not see it and the hon. Gentleman said that he made no such gesture—

Mr. Buchan


Mr. Speaker

I cannot help the House. I cannot ask an hon. Member to withdraw something that I did not see myself and if he has denied having made such a gesture. Mr. John Patten

Mr. Buchan


Hon. Members

Sit down.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I shall hear the point of order, but I warn the hon. Gentleman that it is now three minutes to 10 o'clock.

Mr. Buchan

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. With your acceptance of his denial, Mr. Speaker, you are assuming—almost declaring—that some of us are lying. With respect, we are speaking the truth and the hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin) should honourably withdraw the gesture that he made.

Mr. Speaker

I cannot be in a position of adjudicating on a matter when I did not see what happened. The hon. Gentleman has denied that he made that gesture and we must take his word for it.

9.57 pm
Mr. John Patten

I am extremely sorry that the hon. Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Buchan) should seek to waste the time of the House. It is characteristic of his approach during our debates on the Bill.

The hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms. Abbott) seems to have forgotten everything she was taught in the Home Office when she was a civil servant. She has forgotten the great width of section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 and has failed to understand the considerable narrowings of the law that my right hon. Friend's Bill introduces.

Of course, debates have been heated and detailed because the protection of official information inevitably raises extremely difficult questions of principle and practice. The debates in Committee, on Second Reading, on Report and on Third Reading have illustrated that.

It is not surprising, given such debates, that previous Governments have found it much easier to soldier on rather than attempt to grasp the nettle of legislation. We have made such a contribution in our traditional role as a radical and reforming Government. We have grasped the nettle and the Bill offers the answers. On such a contentious issue we certainly did not expect unanimity from all sides of the House.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) and my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) criticised us for going too far in drawing up the Bill. We certainly expected to be assailed with general arguments and specific concerns. We have attempted to answer those concerns, but the Bill leaves the House in such a shape that it entirely deserves the support which it has received. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen), to whom I rarely turn for a text, said in an earlier intervention that was meant to be unhelpful to the Government that the Bill would last for a generation. But it will last for considerably longer than a generation.

It being Ten o'clock, MR. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the order [13 February] and the Resolutions this day to put the Question already proposed from the Chair, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 320, Noes 195.

Division No. 113] [10.00 pm
Adley, Robert Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Alexander, Richard Davis, David (Boothferry)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Day, Stephen
Amess, David Devlin, Tim
Amos, Alan Dickens, Geoffrey
Arbuthnot, James Dorrell, Stephen
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Dunn, Bob
Ashby, David Eggar, Tim
Atkinson, David Emery, Sir Peter
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Evennett, David
Baldry, Tony Fallon, Michael
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Favell, Tony
Batiste, Spencer Fenner, Dame Peggy
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Beggs, Roy Fishburn, John Dudley
Bellingham, Henry Fookes, Dame Janet
Bendall, Vivian Forman, Nigel
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Benyon, W. Forth, Eric
Biffen, Rt Hon John Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Blackburn, Dr John G. Fox, Sir Marcus
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Franks, Cecil
Body, Sir Richard Freeman, Roger
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas French, Douglas
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gale, Roger
Boswell, Tim Gill, Christopher
Bottom ley, Peter Glyn, Dr Alan
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Goodhart, Sir Philip
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Goodlad, Alastair
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Bowis, John Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Gow, Ian
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Brazier, Julian Green way, Harry (Ealing N)
Bright, Graham Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Gregory, Conal
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Browne, John (Winchester) Grist, Ian
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Buck, Sir Antony Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Burns, Simon Hanley, Jeremy
Burt, Alistair Hannam, John
Butcher, John Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Butler, Chris Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Butterfill, John Harris, David
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Haselhurst, Alan
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hawkins, Christopher
Carrington, Matthew Hayes, Jerry
Carttiss, Michael Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Cash, William Hayward, Robert
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Heathcoat-Amory, David
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Heddle, John
Chapman, Sydney Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Chope, Christopher Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Churchill, Mr Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hill, James
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hind, Kenneth
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Colvin, Michael Holt, Richard
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Hordern, Sir Peter
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Howard, Michael
Cope, Rt Hon John Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Couchman, James Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Critchley, Julian Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hunter, Andrew Norris, Steve
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Irvine, Michael Oppenheim, Phillip
Irving, Charles Page, Richard
Jack, Michael Paice, James
Jackson, Robert Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Janman, Tim Patnick, Irvine
Jessel, Toby Patten, John (Oxford W)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Pawsey, James
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Porter, David (Waveney)
Key, Robert Portillo, Michael
Kilfedder, James Powell, William (Corby)
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Price, Sir David
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Raffan, Keith
Kirkhope, Timothy Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Knapman, Roger Rathbone, Tim
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Redwood, John
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Renton, Tim
Knowles, Michael Rhodes James, Robert
Knox, David Riddick, Graham
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lang, Ian Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Latham, Michael Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Lawrence, Ivan Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Lee, John (Pendle) Roe, Mrs Marion
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Rossi, Sir Hugh
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Rost, Peter
Lightbown, David Rowe, Andrew
Lilley, Peter Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Ryder, Richard
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Sackville, Hon Tom
Lord, Michael Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Sayeed, Jonathan
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Scott, Nicholas
McCrindle, Robert Shaw, David (Dover)
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Maclean, David Shersby, Michael
McLoughlin, Patrick Sims, Roger
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Skeet, Sir Trevor
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Madel, David Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Major, Rt Hon John Soames, Hon Nicholas
Malins, Humfrey Speller, Tony
Mans, Keith Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Maples, John Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Marlow, Tony Squire, Robin
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Stanbrook, Ivor
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Steen, Anthony
Mates, Michael Stern, Michael
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Mellor, David Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Miller, Sir Hal Stokes, Sir John
Mills, Iain Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Miscampbell, Norman Sumberg, David
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Summerson, Hugo
Mitchell, Sir David Tapsell, Sir Peter
Moate, Roger Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Monro, Sir Hector Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Temple-Morris, Peter
Moore, Rt Hon John Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Thorne, Neil
Moss, Malcolm Thurnham, Peter
Moynihan, Hon Colin Townend, John (Bridlington)
Mudd, David Tracey, Richard
Neale, Gerrard Tredinnick, David
Needham, Richard Trippier, David
Nelson, Anthony Trotter, Neville
Neubert, Michael Twinn, Dr Ian
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Nicholls, Patrick Viggers, Peter
Waddington, Rt Hon David Wilkinson, John
Wakeham, Rt Hon John Wilshire, David
Walden, George Winterton, Mrs Ann
Walker, Bill (T'side North) Winterton, Nicholas
Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester) Wolfson, Mark
Waller, Gary Wood, Timothy
Ward, John Woodcock, Mike
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill) Yeo, Tim
Watts, John Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wells, Bowen Younger, Rt Hon George
Wheeler, John
Whitney, Ray Tellers for the Ayes:
Widdecombe, Ann Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones and
Wiggin, Jerry Mr. Tony Durant.
Abbott, Ms Diane Dewar, Donald
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Dixon, Don
Aitken, Jonathan Dobson, Frank
Alton, David Doran, Frank
Anderson, Donald Douglas, Dick
Armstrong, Hilary Dunnachie, Jimmy
Ashton, Joe Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Eadie, Alexander
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Eastham, Ken
Barron, Kevin Fatchett, Derek
Battle, John Faulds, Andrew
Beckett, Margaret Fearn, Ronald
Beith, A. J. Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Bermingham, Gerald Fisher, Mark
Bidwell, Sydney Flannery, Martin
Blair, Tony Flynn, Paul
Boateng, Paul Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Bradley, Keith Foster, Derek
Bray, Dr Jeremy Foulkes, George
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Fraser, John
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Fyfe, Maria
Buchan, Norman Galbraith, Sam
Buckley, George J. Galloway, George
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Godman, Dr Norman A.
Cartwright, John Golding, Mrs Llin
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Gordon, Mildred
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Gorst, John
Clay, Bob Gould, Bryan
Clelland, David Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Cohen, Harry Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Grocott, Bruce
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Hardy, Peter
Corbett, Robin Harman, Ms Harriet
Corbyn, Jeremy Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Cryer, Bob Haynes, Frank
Cummings, John Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Cunliffe, Lawrence Heffer, Eric S.
Darling, Alistair Henderson, Doug
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Hinchliffe, David
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Holland, Stuart Parry, Robert
Home Robertson, John Patchett, Terry
Hood, Jimmy Pendry, Tom
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Pike, Peter L.
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Howells, Geraint Prescott, John
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Primarolo, Dawn
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Quin, Ms Joyce
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Radice, Giles
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Randall, Stuart
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Redmond, Martin
Illsley, Eric Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Ingram, Adam Reid, Dr John
Janner, Greville Richardson, Jo
Johnston, Sir Russell Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Robinson, Geoffrey
Kennedy, Charles Rooker, Jeff
Lambie, David Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Lamond, James Ruddock, Joan
Leadbitter, Ted Salmond, Alex
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Sedgemore, Brian
Litherland, Robert Sheerman, Barry
Livsey, Richard Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Loyden, Eddie Short, Clare
McAllion, John Skinner, Dennis
McAvoy, Thomas Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
McCartney, Ian Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Macdonald, Calum A. Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
McFall, John Soley, Clive
McKelvey, William Spearing, Nigel
McLeish, Henry Steel, Rt Hon David
Maclennan, Robert Steinberg, Gerry
McNamara, Kevin Stott, Roger
McTaggart, Bob Strang, Gavin
McWilliam, John Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Madden, Max Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Mahon, Mrs Alice Turner, Dennis
Marek, Dr John Vaz, Keith
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Wall, Pat
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Wallace, James
Martlew, Eric Walley, Joan
Maxton, John Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Meacher, Michael Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Meale, Alan Wilson, Brian
Michael, Alun Winnick, David
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Moonie, Dr Lewis Worthington, Tony
Morgan, Rhodri Wray, Jimmy
Morley, Elliott Young, David (Bolton SE)
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Paul Tellers for the Noes:
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Mr. Robert N. Wareing and
O'Brien, William Mr. Allen McKay.
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.

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