HC Deb 02 November 1998 vol 318 c402W
Mr. Cohen

To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the value of reports from the security services on the potential security risks of candidates for ministerial positions; what opportunities are provided to persons so reported on to respond to those reports; and if he will make a statement. [57472]

The Prime Minister

It has long been the practice for the Security Service to draw to the attention of the Prime Minister when forming a Government any significant national security information in its possession which relates to members of the Government party. This arrangement has been endorsed by successive Prime Ministers and I am satisfied that it remains both necessary and proper.

The recently published annual report of the Intelligence and Security Committee, established under the Intelligence Services Act 1994 to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the United Kingdom's Intelligence Services, did not criticise or question the probity of this process, but emphasised the heavy responsibility on the Director General of the Security Service to ensure that the information put forward is accurate and related solely to national security. In their response to the report, the Government made it clear that they were satisfied that the Director General took this responsibility seriously and that the arrangements continued to be proper and appropriate.

It is of course the case that decisions on the formation of a Government remain a matter for the Prime Minister alone.