Last night, I was officially appointed to the Houses of Parliament Intelligence and Security Committee.
The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) was first established by the Intelligence Services Act 1994 to examine the policy, administration and expenditure of the Security Service, Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The Justice and Security Act 2013 reformed the ISC: making it a Committee of Parliament; providing greater powers; and increasing its remit (including oversight of operational activity and the wider intelligence and security activities of Government). Other than the three intelligence and security Agencies, the ISC examines the intelligence-related work of the Cabinet Office including: the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC); the Assessments Staff; and the National Security Secretariat. The Committee also provides oversight of Defence Intelligence in the Ministry of Defence and the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism in the Home Office.
Members of the ISC are nominated by the Prime Minister and in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. They are then appointed by Parliament and the Committee reports directly to Parliament. The Committee may also make reports to the Prime Minister on matters which are national security sensitive.
The Members are subject to Section 1(1)(b) of the Official Secrets Act 1989 and have access to highly classified material in carrying out their duties. The Committee takes evidence from Cabinet Ministers and senior officials – all of which is used to formulate its reports.
This recent appointment will be added to my current portfolio in Parliament. I am already a member of the House of Commons Justice Select Committee and a member of the Speaker’s Panel of Chairs, which sees him presiding over parliamentary debates and Bill committees on the behalf of Mr. Speaker.
It is a great honour to have been nominated by both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to the Intelligence and Security Committee. As a former Government Minister for Security and Counter-Terrorism I know how important it is for Parliament to properly scrutinise the Government’s security operations. Being a member of this Committee will see me investigating the Government’s approach to protecting our security.
The first role of Government is providing security. The first role of Parliament is scrutinising Government. The Intelligence and Security Committee, which is a cross-party Committee of both Houses, is at the vanguard of uniting both these principles. I will use my experience as a Home Office Minister to work with my parliamentary colleagues in holding the Government to account.
This will just be one of a many other aspects to my role as an MP for Delyn. I will continue as a member of the Justice Select Committee and the Speaker’s Panel of Chairs. But most importantly, I will continue to pursue issues on behalf of my constituents both in Parliament and in the constituency.