Earthlinggb's Blog

Scotland’s “Crown”: Solid proof the Queen runs the show!

Posted in Political History, Politics by Earthlinggb . on March 8, 2014
HC Deb 10 February 1998 vol 306 cc185-201185

§Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West)I beg to move amendment No. 44, in page 18, line 11, leave out from `be’ to end of line 13 and insert `elected by the members of the Parliament’.

§The Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir Alan Haselhurst)With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 254, in page 18, leave out lines 19 to 27.

No. 313, in clause 43, page 18, line 36, leave out ‘or’.

No. 275, in page 18, line 38, at end insert ‘or— 

  1. (e) the First Minister being admitted to a hospital under the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984, becoming subject to a guardianship order or having a curator bonis appointed on his estate’.

No. 76, in clause 44, page 19, line 9, leave out `with the approval of Her Majesty’. No. 276, in page 19, line 10, after ‘appoint’, insert `up to a total of ten’. No. 277, in page 19, leave out lines 11 and 12.

No. 87, in page 19, line 11, leave out `seek Her Majesty’s approval for’ and insert ‘make’.

No. 88, in page 19, leave out line 14.

No. 89, in clause 46, page 19, line 32, leave out `with the approval of Her Majesty’. No. 75, in page 19, line 35, at end insert— ‘(2A) The First Minister shall not make any appointment under this section without the agreement of the Parliament.’. 186No. 90, in page 19, leave out line 37.

§Mr. CanavanI shall speak to amendment No. 44 and the other amendments in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion). Amendments Nos. 44, 76 and 75 are substantive and the others are consequential.

Amendment No. 44 proposes that the First Minister should be elected by Members of the Scottish Parliament rather than being appointed by the Queen and holding office at Her Majesty’s pleasure. As the First Minister will be primus in paribus, or first among equals, it is more appropriate that he or she is elected by his or her parliamentary colleagues than appointed by the Crown.

In the early stages of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, members of the convention signed a document referring to the sovereignty of the people of Scotland. It seems to me that the concepts of the sovereignty of the people of Scotland and of the sovereignty of a monarch are mutually exclusive. (Yes, indeed they are!) The amendments propose that, if the First Minister is not directly elected by the people of Scotland, he or she should be elected by the people’s representatives in the Scottish Parliament.

I dare say that Opposition Members, and perhaps the Minister, will argue that the role of the monarchy is a mere formality in respect of the governance of the country or the countries that used to be part of the British empire. However, not all that long ago a Labour Prime Minister was ousted from his job in Australia because of the interference of the Governor-General, the Queen’s representative. (And I have previously written about Gough Whitlam, the Australian PM and how all of it came about via the Queen’s mafia. Glad to see confirmation of it once more in parliament)

In 1974, there were two general elections, and the first resulted in a hung parliament. No party had an overall majority in Parliament, and Harold Wilson was the leader of the party with the largest number of Members. However, the Queen did not call Harold Wilson to the palace. In fact, she called the defeated Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath), to the palace and asked him to cobble up some kind of coalition agreement with Jeremy Thorpe, the then leader of the Liberal party. There was a long hiatus in which, in effect, there was no Government. Harold Wilson, who was the leader of the biggest party, had to wait in the wings until he was called to the palace to form a Government.

§Mr. WallaceI am following the hon. Gentleman’s argument and I am sure that he would not want there to be any inaccuracy. He will also agree that Jeremy Thorpe and his Liberal colleagues showed good sense by not supporting Edward Heath. Is not the point that Edward Heath had the advantage of incumbency—

§The ChairmanOrder. I remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that he is referring to a right hon. Member. (and paedophile)

§Mr. WallaceI apologise, Sir Alan. I was speaking from a sense of history, as I was just a boy at the time. It was actually my first vote.

The right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath) was the incumbent Prime Minister at the time, so it was not a matter of the Queen sending for him. He had to tender his resignation. I am sure that even the 187hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) would have thought it an abuse if the sovereign had summoned the Prime Minister and demanded his resignation.

§Mr. CanavanThat is exactly what the Queen should have done after the February 1974 general election. Whatever the will of the British people, as expressed at the ballot box, it was quite clear that they no longer wanted the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup to be their Prime Minister. The Queen should have summoned him to the palace and sacked him and then called Harold Wilson, but for reasons best known to herself, she did not do that. Sometimes I wonder about the so-called neutral role of the monarchy in respect of politics. (Do you really or are you just gently making the point?)

§Ms Roseanna CunninghamThe hon. Gentleman will know that I am very much in favour of reducing the work load of the monarch—preferably to zero. I was interested to hear the intervention of the hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace). I do not know whether he knows what happened in Australia, but in contradiction to his point about 1974—which may be true, but I do not know as I was not here at the time—when the Australian Labour Government were sacked and a general election was called, the Liberals, or the Tories, were appointed in the interim and therefore were in government throughout the election. That is an interesting point as it illustrates the other side of the coin from that referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman. I agree with the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) about the monarch’s neutrality, which remains to be proved. (How is it, if we live in a true, free, open democratic country, that even our MPs and Lords question and do not know the exact position of our constitutional monarchy who, we are told, has no power?)

§Mr. CanavanI am grateful to the hon. Lady for that intervention as it shows the inconsistency of the monarchy or its representatives when they take a role in the running of Governments or Parliaments.

We have to bear in mind too that, if the political pundits are correct, there will be a much greater probability of a hung Parliament in the Scottish Parliament because of the system of proportional representation. The amendments would minimise—in fact remove—the possibility of any interference by the monarchy as to who should be the First Minister and form the Government.

My amendments Nos. 76 and 75 propose that Parliament’s agreement should be required in appointing not only the First Minister but other Ministers and that there should be no role for the monarchy in appointing other Ministers or junior Ministers.

Another anomaly in the Bill is that, under clause 46, the First Minister would require Parliament’s agreement before seeking the Crown’s approval of the appointment of a Minister, whereas the First Minister could appoint junior Ministers without seeking Parliament’s approval. I think that that would be a bad thing and that all ministerial appointments should be subject to Parliament’s approval. A Scottish Parliament should not simply ape the patronage system of this place, where the power of patronage is widely open to abuse. As I had started to say, the Crown is the very pinnacle of the patronage system, although in practice the Prime Minister exercises many of those powers.

We have witnessed many examples—and are perhaps witnessing current examples—of appointments that are made without any reference to Parliament or much democratic accountability. We must remember that the 188First Minister of Scotland will have tremendous patronage powers, because, presumably, he or she will inherit all the patronage powers currently held by the Secretary of State for Scotland, who is responsible for hundreds of public appointments across Scotland. We are talking not about the appointment of a mere coterie of Scottish Cabinet members and junior Ministers but about patronage over hundreds of public positions across Scotland. (So what this is saying is that, once Alex is in, he has total control of who he appoints to ensure he has all his buddies surrounding him to fully support his exploitation of Scotland and become a very very rich little fat bastard. With the Queen’s acceptance that is)

We should make the First Minister and the First Minister’s ministerial colleagues as accountable as possible to the people of Scotland through elected representatives.

§Mr. SalmondI am very sympathetic to many of the points that the hon. Gentleman is making. However, it seems that clause 43 is something of an advance on the current situation at Westminster, where someone is to be called to the palace—presumably the head of the leading party in the general election. The clause states that the Scottish Parliament will nominate one of its members for appointment as First Minister. That seems to go part of the way towards achieving the more satisfactory situation that the hon. Gentleman outlined, and away from the process of mystification that we could have in this place if there were a hung Parliament.

§Mr. CanavanI agree that the Bill proposes a ministerial appointment system that is better than our current system at Westminster, where Ministers can be appointed without any reference to Parliament. We once had a rule in the parliamentary Labour party that, if someone was an elected member of the shadow Cabinet, he or she would automatically become a Cabinet member when Labour was elected to government. In at least two cases that I know of, that did not happen after 1 May. Furthermore, I know of at least one Minister whose appointment might not have been accepted had it required parliamentary approval. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name him."] I forget his constituency, but I believe that he has something to do with the millennium dome.[Interruption.] Yes, he is the Minister for the dome.

§Mr. SalmondIs the hon. Gentleman’s bleeper going off?

§Mr. CanavanI have it switched off.

As I said, the two concepts of sovereignty of the people and sovereignty of the monarch are mutually exclusive. If we really believe in sovereignty of the people, Members of the Scottish Parliament should—as proposed—be elected by the people and accountable to the people. Similarly, Ministers should be elected by the elected representatives of the people. In that way, the Scottish Government or the Scottish Executive would be more accountable to the people of Scotland.

(Notice, at this point, Alex Salmond keeps his powder dry and says nothing in response to this statement by Canavan. Now why do you think that would be? It’s because he is not going to agree to sovereignty of the people when he knows he must retain sovereignty for the Crown and Queen)
6.15 pm

§Dr. Liam Fox (Woodspring)I am rather sorry that the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Sedgemore)—who said that Labour Members are clones—was not in the Chamber to hear the speech of the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan). It is nice to know that he still shops for his speeches at Republicans—’R—Us, adding a bit of colour to the Labour Benches. (Liam Fox: Zionist ass licker of her majesty and liar who used depleted uranium against Libya)

189I shall speak to amendment No. 275, which deals with the important issue of the mental health of Members of Parliament, which is not a laughing matter but a serious issue that is important both for Members of Parliament and for the protection of their electorate—to ensure that representation of the electorate is maintained.

§Mr. McLeishJust for the record, is present company excepted from the deliberations?

§Dr. FoxThe Minister is asking me to give a professional opinion, which I do not think I want to stray into right now.

I wonder how many hon. Members realise that the Mental Health Act 1983 has special provisions for section orders for Members of Parliament. Should, for example, an hon. Member fall ill with a mental health problem, a complex procedure will come into play. First, the doctor signing a section order or the person who is in charge of the hospital where the Member is detained will notify the Speaker. Secondly, the Speaker will appoint someone from the Royal College of Psychiatrists to look after the Member. If that Member is still detained under a section order after six months, the seat will become vacant.

I do not know why there should be such a provision for hon. Members in this place, but not for those in the Scottish Parliament. I think that Ministers have simply overlooked the matter, and I look forward to the Minister bringing the Scottish Parliament into line on that point. It is quite a serious and important matter, which should not be belittled.

§Dr. Lynda ClarkCould the hon. Gentleman advise the Committee of the number of occasions when that provision has been used?

§Dr. FoxI do not think that it matters whether it has been used: the provision is there to protect the electorate should a Member of Parliament be absent for six months and unable to represent his or her constituents. One would hope that the provision would never have to be used and that hon. Members do not suffer in that way, but it is there to protect the electorate. It is, therefore, important.

In tabling amendment No. 276, we wanted to examine a different aspect of the Bill. Our amendment would limit the size of the Scottish Executive. “Erskine May”, for example, limits the Prime Minister’s freedom of manoeuvre in establishing the number of places in his Cabinet, yet this Bill places no limitation on the size of the Scottish Executive. The Bill provides for an unspecified number of Ministers plus an unspecified number of junior Ministers. The Scottish Office is currently run by the Secretary of State and five Ministers. One would not wish a situation to arise—which has occurred elsewhere—in which the number of Ministers was increased simply to keep Members quiet, by appointing more of them as Ministers. The hon. Member for Falkirk, West dealt with the matter of patronage in his speech.

When I was at the Foreign Office—although I do not suggest that it might happen in the Scottish Parliament—one of the Governments whom I dealt with was the Government of Nepal. As the coalition Government started to crumble, one side of the Parliament consisted of 130 Members, of whom 85 were Ministers. I see the hon. Member for Falkirk, West smiling—perhaps because 190he foresees the possible bonanza. However, it will happen only at the taxpayers’ expense. If we are to avoid “jobs for the boys” gibes, we shall have to ensure that we are not writing a blank cheque for Members of the Scottish Parliament or giving unlimited powers of patronage to the First Minister.

§Mr. Andrew Welsh (Angus)Not content with limiting the powers of a Scottish Parliament, the Tories want to limit the number of Scottish Ministers to fewer than those in a football team—and for ever more. Surely the size and shape of the Scottish Cabinet is up to the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament. It is again clear that the Tories have no trust or faith in the Scottish people or their democracy. (Nothing to do with trust in the scottish people. It is to do with there being no trust in politicians by another politician because he knows what a bunch of corrupt gits look like because he is one. Neither are YOU saying that such a call would be made by the scottish people themselves but by the scottish government ministers, so we’re back to square one asshole!)

§Dr. FoxQuite the reverse—the issue is about having less faith in politicians than in the people. (Hah! I hadn’t even read this before I made the above comment! How about that?! :-))‘t are concerned with the ability of politicians to rein themselves in when offered a blank cheque. We have tabled the amendments from the point of view of protecting the electorate from politicians. (This is Liam Fox saying this! How do these people say what they say without going red in the face? How about protecting us from you then you corrupt bastard!) When the people of Scotland voted in large numbers in favour of the proposals in the referendum, I do not think that they ever wanted to give such a blank cheque to the Parliament or for there to be an unspecified number of Ministers.

Given that in this House Ministers are appointed by the Prime Minister, and that the First Minister will have to have the Scottish Parliament’s approval, it would be excessive to stipulate that all Ministers had to be approved by the Scottish Parliament. To introduce an American style of approval of Ministers, such as that welcomed by the hon. Member for Falkirk, West, would be excessive control over the First Minister’s freedom. Such control does not apply in Westminster, and the case has not been made for it to apply in the Scottish Parliament. I hope that the Minister will reconsider.

Now we get into the “meat” of it all…..

§Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East)I shall speak in support of the amendments tabled in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan). The amendments would delete the following phrases: appointed by Her Majesty from among the members of the Parliament and shall hold office at Her Majesty’s pleasure”, with the approval of Her Majesty”—in clauses 44 and 46— seek Her Majesty’s approval”, and shall hold office at Her Majesty’s pleasure”. in clauses 44 and 46.

I would not want the group of amendments to be represented as an attack on either Her Majesty or the monarchy. That would be a misreading of the intent behind them. It is true that my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West and I hold certain views about the legitimacy of an hereditary institution exercising what should be democratic power in a democratic society. I for one have never understood those who argue for modernising the British constitution and who speak about sweeping away powers of hereditary peers, while at the same time talking about entrenching the powers of an hereditary monarch. (No mate, neither do I nor many of us)

191 I very much take to heart my hon. Friend’s arguments, particularly those on the 1974 election and what happened to Gough Whitlam in Australia. (Now, you SNP supporters out there: If you do not understand what happened in this case, for one, then you have no idea what this has to do with Scottish “independence” do you? And why you NEED to know!) The future role of the monarchy is not at the heart of the amendments. The amendments focus on the Scottish Parliament’s right democratically to elect Ministers who will hold office in the Scottish Government after 1999.

The Bill technically says that the First Minister shall be appointed by Her Majesty and hold office at Her Majesty’s approval. We know that that is a constitutional fiction. We know that the Queen will not in fact appoint anybody in the Scottish Parliament. She will do so only on the advice of the British Prime Minister and the British Cabinet of the day. (as you will see, this isn’t actually true and he may well have been playing “Devil’s advocate” here. On the face of it, she “takes advice” but she already tells her ministers what “advice” she wishes to take and they simply then tell her majesty what she wishes to hear) We are really talking about the right of the United Kingdom Government and Cabinet to appoint the First Minister, other Ministers and junior Ministers in a Scottish Parliament. Without the approval of the UK Cabinet, that could not go ahead—otherwise, the provision would not be in the Bill. Even the right to hold office is contingent on the continuing approval of the British Government and Cabinet.

There is danger in such a system. The hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) said in an earlier debate that we cannot always assume that the British Cabinet will be in sympathy with the Scottish Parliament and necessarily want it to stand on its own feet, as the Minister would like.

§Mr. Tim Collins (Westmorland and Lonsdale)I am following the hon. Gentleman’s argument most closely. He seems to be making a case for a separate Scottish Head of State. If that is so, why is he sitting on the Government Benches and not with the Scottish nationalists? (Interesting comment because, as you are aware, the SNP as “Scottish nationalists” do not make the case for a separate Head of state do they? At least not a change of who that Head of state is!)

§Mr. McAllionI do not think that I have referred to the Head of State. My opinion on the Head of State—which I presume the hon. Gentleman seriously wants to hear, or he would not have asked—is that the Queen could do a lot worse than put herself forward for a referendum to endorse whether she should be the Head of State. The legitimacy of the Queen’s role will always be questioned as long as she does not subject herself to the consent of the people.

If I were a monarchist—which I am not—I would be arguing for the Queen to call a referendum on her role in the British constitution. If, in such a referendum, she received the endorsement of a huge majority, as everybody says she would, I am sure that that would improve her situation. Others of us would also like a referendum so that we could vote for the kind of Head of State we wanted. It is not a matter of treason to want a democratically elected Head of State—although, judging from the Tories’ comments, it would sometimes seem so.

The heart of the problem is the relationship between the United Kingdom Parliament and the Scottish Parliament. All the phrases—which the amendments would delete—mean this: the Scottish Parliament would be allowed to appoint its own Ministers only so long as they met with the approval of the Westminster Parliament and Government. That lies at the heart of my objections.

§Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield)I think that the clauses about which the hon. Gentleman is complaining mean the complete opposite of what he is saying. The very reason why it is stipulated that the Scottish First 192Minister will hold office at Her Majesty’s pleasure is that that asserts absolutely and categorically that he has a direct link with the sovereign, which cannot be overridden by the United Kingdom Prime Minister in devolved matters. That is an essential protection under our present constitutional arrangements. (Question: Why does he need the link? ;-))

§Mr. McAllionThe hon. Gentleman is arguing as if the Queen had real constitutional powers. (Yes he is, because she does as is becoming obvious with every word) We have always been told that, of course, she does not have any real powers, because all constitutional power is exercised on the advice of the British Prime Minister. She would not dare to do anything on her own that a British Prime Minister would not allow her to do. (Of course not because that would give the game away. So, with the PM being a Crown Minister also, he keeps Her Majesty’s secrets, one of which is that he “advises” her rather than the reality which is she tells him what it is she wants him to advise her of! She gets rid of PMs she doesn’t like! Gough Whitlam being just one. I would posit that Maggie Thatcher was another due to her “No!” stance on Europe) Now, all of a sudden, the argument is very different. The hon. Gentleman is saying, “Yes, the Queen does have constitutional powers.” He is agreeing with my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West, who is concerned about the powers that an unelected monarchy exercises in the British constitution. I am increasingly concerned about the hon. Gentleman’s tone and the way in which the argument is developing. (You know precisely what the “Crown” is mate so don’t play silly buggers!)

§Mr. John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings)The hon. Gentleman needs to consider the implications of what he is saying. As my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) suggested, it matters not whether in practical terms the Head of State uses the power, but it matters from where the power is derived. The practical exercise of power and the source of power are two quite different things. The hon. Gentleman misunderstands the clauses. (No they are not two different things. Only power can exercise power. The PM exercises that power delegated to him/her. This was a bullshit statement and transparent)

§Mr. McAllionThe hon. Gentleman, who goes to Scotland on holiday only occasionally, also totally misunderstands the situation. I will tell him where the source of the power of appointment in a Scottish Parliament is. It is the people who elect that Scottish Parliament. There is no need for any reference to the United Kingdom Government, Cabinet or heir to the Head of State. A Scottish Parliament will be democratically legitimate because it will be elected by the Scottish people; it should be allowed freely to appoint its Ministers. That is the bottom line for those of us who agree with the Claim of Right and who believe that sovereignty rests with the people and not with the institution in Westminster. (He’s right in his ideology but totally naive! Or, again, is he just playing a game here? Feigning ignorance?)

Worse than that, throughout the debates, there has been a tension between the UK Parliament wanting to keep control and a leash on what the Scottish Parliament might do, and those of us who want the Scottish Parliament to get on with the job of governing Scotland’s domestic affairs free from interference, control and any dependence on the British Parliament.

§Dr. FoxBut the logic of that position is to move to independence, not devolution. The hon. Gentleman is arguing for a separate Scottish Parliament. (Never Liam! Very observant of you!)

§Mr. McAllionThe Tories have a blanket approach to this debate. They envisage only two possibilities: either there is a toy town Parliament that is under the control of the British Parliament, or there is independence. They say that time and again, but they are wrong. There is a middle position, in which sovereignty is shared between the Scottish and United Kingdom Parliaments. The Scottish Parliament does not need to seek anyone’s approval for 193the appointment of Ministers—it has the approval of the Scottish people, which is all the sovereignty that is required. That is not to argue for independence. (Notice the word “sovereignty” in all of this and notice he makes the point that there is a difference between the words “sovereignty” and “independence”. This is why I ask Scottish nationalists what it is they want? You see, I have no interest in “Independence”. I want sovereignty! Yet, many nationalists can’t understand what I’m saying so they lambast me for being a unionist! Yet the reality is that I am WAY more “nationalist” than they are!)

Earlier, we debated whether, if the Scottish Parliament broke down and did not work, that would lead to independence or whether it would benefit the Tories and lead us back to a United Kingdom unitary state. I tend to agree with the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond): if the Scottish Parliament is a success, it will greatly increase the confidence among the Scottish people. Yes, the Scottish Parliament will argue for more and more powers to be devolved to it—there is nothing wrong with that. The real wreckers of the Scottish Parliament, who are sitting on the official Opposition Benches, do not want the Scottish Parliament to work, so they want the Bill to contain all these various control mechanisms.

6.30 pm

I have great sympathy with the idea that the number of Ministers should be restricted, not only in the Scottish Parliament but in this Parliament. The example of Nepal was cited, where of 130 Members 85 are Ministers. Everyone who is not a Minister wants to be one, so the Executive have complete control over the legislature, much as they have in this Parliament. As a point of principle, I want the Executive to be limited, but not to 10. I want a series of Departments to be set up under the Scottish Parliament, each with its own Minister, so that there are separate Departments for housing, health and local government. The Scottish Parliament should be able to decide on the number of Ministers and whether that number should be limited.

There is much to be said for Bank Benchers having the power to hold the Executive to account. Any Parliament that is worth its salt has to have a number of independent Back Benchers. The trouble with the Westminster Parliament is that there are not enough independent Back Benchers—the Executive tightly control the Back Benchers, which is the wrong way round. We could easily ensure that the Scottish Parliament gets things the right way round, but that will not happen if we check and limit its powers to get on with its own business.

The aim of the amendments is simple. It is for the Scottish Parliament—not for Westminster, the monarch of the United Kingdom state or anyone else—to decide who the Ministers are in the Government of the day in Scotland, as the Scottish Parliament alone will be elected by the Scottish people to fulfil that task.

§Mr. Donald Gorrie (Edinburgh, West)There is only one Liberal Democrat amendment in this group. It is a tidying-up amendment that relates to amendment No. 275, which was tabled by the Conservatives. We fully support that amendment, as it deals with the important issue of the mental health of the First Minister. There is a risk that the First Minister will suffer from megalomania. We already have a Secretary of State who single-handedly decides where the Parliament should be, so there is no knowing what may happen when power goes to people’s heads in the Scottish Parliament and they are corrupted, as all people in power always are. By the law of averages, Conservative Members must sometimes be right—on this occasion, we believe that they have a good point.

We do not agree with the two other points that Conservative Members have made. First, we do not see why there should be a limit on the number of Ministers 194in the Scottish Cabinet. The Scottish Parliament may decide to operate totally differently from Westminster—for example, there may be a flat structure rather than one that includes Secretaries of State and junior Ministers. It should have the scope to approach matters in a modern way and to organise its affairs as it wishes. The electorate will soon respond if there are jobs for the boys and girls, and will punish those responsible. Things can be left to the good sense not of the politicians, but of the electorate. (That’s what the US Constitution framers thought! Look what’s happened there! Are these people for real?)

Secondly, the Conservatives have moved against what we believe is one of the Bill’s best proposals—the introduction of the concept, which is new to Britain, that Parliament must approve all the Ministers. That is a great step towards democracy, and it is a pity that the Conservatives want to remove it.

I shall now deal with the points made by the hon. Members for Falkirk and for Dundee, East and West respectively, I think, although I never remember—

§Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)There is a subtle difference.

§Mr. GorrieThe difference is not so subtle.

The hon. Members for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) and for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) are two of the most refreshing hon. Members, and we have the greatest sympathy with the angle from which they are coming. On this occasion, however, although we understand their argument, we do not agree with it. We believe that the matter is covered in clause 43(1), which states: the Parliament shall within the period allowed nominate one of its members for appointment as First Minister”. That makes it clear that the Parliament chooses the First Minister. As I said, it also has the power to approve the Ministers.

There is a good argument for continuing to mention the Queen in this context. People may feel that there should be a different constitutional structure, but that is a debate for another day. Under the existing structure, the fact that the Queen has the same relationship to the Scottish premier as she does to the British premier gives legitimacy and status to the Scottish Parliament. It demonstrates that the Scottish Parliament is not a toy town Parliament, a parish council, a regional council or a city chambers—it is a Parliament with a direct relationship to the Queen. (Note: ONLY legitimacy IF a direct relationship with the Queen!)

The language may be archaic, but the point at issue is sound—the Scottish Parliament should choose the First Minister. The Parliament will meet to elect the First Minister; he or she will not have to drive in a horse and carriage across the road to Holyrood palace, although the Queen will do whatever she usually does and bless the premier, perhaps—I do not know, as I have never been present at such an occasion.

Clause 47 deals with civil servants. Liberal Democrats strongly believe that a new atmosphere should be created, in which the civil servants are responsible to the Parliament and do not work for the Government only. This is not the appropriate time to ensure that that happens, but when the Parliament’s methods of operation and Standing Orders are considered, we shall push strongly in that direction. Civil servants should continue 195to advise Ministers, but they should also give information to and have much more open discussions with Members from all parties in the Scottish Parliament.

§Mr. DalyellGiven the opening remarks of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Gorrie), I have a sneaking suspicion that he has read the first leader in this morning’s The Scotsman.

I should like to ask my hon. Friend the Minister a question. If there is a conflict of opinion over a United Kingdom reserved matter, whose advice will the Queen take? Will she take the advice of the First Minister of the Scottish Parliament or that of the Prime Minister of the UK? If the matter is a devolved one, will the Queen take the advice of the Prime Minister or of the First Minister? Furthermore, if the matter is devolved but the UK Parliament is legislating under clause 27(7), whose advice will the Queen take—that of the Prime Minister or of the First Minister? (And here you have the strongest of evidence of the Queen’s ultimate power: The two PM’s -or, in this case, at the time, the PM of Great Britain and the First Minister of Scotland – have to COMPETE regarding who’s advice the Queen ultimately takes. It shows, then that it is not the Prime Minister’s advice to the Queen today which the queen just accepts in some form of acquiescence, but she CHOOSES which advice she wishes to take. That is, after all, what makes her and her Crown “SOVEREIGN”. No-one dictates to her, it is quite the opposite. If she decides on one of their “advices” then the other has to take it on the chin. SHE is the decision maker! And it is the decision maker who wields the power! Just as in the case of a board meeting with the CEO – the Directors can make their pitches and give their advice but once that CEO decides, that’s it. The Directors do his bidding or else)

§Mr. GrieveI broadly welcome clause 42. Its purpose is to emphasise the importance of the First Minister’s role and his direct relationship with the sovereign. I appreciate the fact that the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) does not like the principles underlying that but, as has properly been said, unless there is a change in our constitutional arrangements, it will be wise to observe constitutional conventions, so as to ensure a good working relationship between Westminster and Edinburgh and to secure the status of the Edinburgh Parliament. The First Minister should be appointed by Her Majesty and hold office at her pleasure; that will be an important constitutional safeguard, which will be to the advantage of the Scots.

In tabling amendment No. 254, my concern was that, although clause 42 (1) to (3) properly sets out the First Minister’s role, subsections (4) and (5) go off the boil and refer to a curious hybrid entity. Subsection (4) mentions a person designated by the Presiding Officer in circumstances where, I infer, the Parliament has not nominated someone for appointment. I do not want to get involved in an exercise in semantics, but as the Secretary of State and the Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution are here, I ask them to consider carefully whether clause 42 is properly drafted. The references in it to the designation “by the Presiding Officer” of a First Minister ad interim, while Parliament makes up its mind, would be better transferred to clause 43.

Clause 42 should define simply and neatly what the First Minister is supposed to do. Some other part of the Bill should emphasise what the designated First Minister is supposed to be. I assume that he or she is to be the person appointed to stand in for the First Minister if the office is vacant, and so is supposed to have all the powers, rights and obligations that the First Minister has. If that is the case, it would be sensible not to leave the wording in this hybrid condition. The legislation should make it clear that we are talking about a First Minister ad interim, who holds office at Her Majesty’s pleasure exactly as any other Minister would do. As that is a non-party political issue, will the Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution look into it?

In conclusion, there has been some discussion of the role of the advice given by the First Minister and by the Prime Minister in the event of conflict—a matter 196raised by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell). It is obvious that that is a real live issue. In defining the role of the First Minister, it is important that his status should be emphasised and that his direct position as the adviser of the Queen on matters relating to devolved issues should be at the forefront. In so far as clause 42 does not do so, I ask the Minister to look at it again and consider whether there should be some rejigging along the lines I have suggested in amendment No. 254 and the associated amendment, No. 255, which has not been selected because it relates to clause 43.

§Mr. SalmondI am surprised that there was not more enthusiasm from the hon. Members for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) and for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) for limiting the number of Ministers. If the Minister of the dome has any say in the appointments, I suspect that neither of those hon. Gentlemen is knocking at the door of ministerial office at present. Indeed, if the Minister of the dome has anything to do with it, the public gallery is the nearest that they may get to the Scottish Parliament. We all hope that that will not be the case and that more democratic processes will be allowed to be carried forward. However, we should be grateful to those two hon. Gentlemen for enabling us to have an important debate.

Tory Members should not misunderstand the position that has been put forward in the amendments. It is not an attack on the monarchy, or the Queen as Head of State, but an attack on one aspect of the royal prerogative, particularly as it applies to the choice of Ministers. That is a legitimate argument. If the amendments were successful, the Queen would remain Head of State, but one aspect of the royal prerogative as regards the appointment of Ministers in a Scottish Parliament would have been removed.

Certainly, it is difficult to argue with the logic of the argument of the hon. Member for Falkirk, West that the position of the First Minister, and indeed other Ministers, should depend on the approval and appointment of the Scottish Parliament as opposed to an aspect of the royal prerogative.

6.45 pm

We heard a fascinating interchange between the hon. Members for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) and for Dundee, East. The latter argued that because the Queen normally takes advice from her first Minister, the Prime Minister, and therefore exercises the functions of the royal prerogative on the advice of that person, it could be a dangerous intervention in the ability of a Scottish Parliament to choose its own Ministers. On the other hand, the hon. Member for Beaconsfield says that the clause is some form of entrenchment because it would give the First Minister of a Scottish Parliament a direct line to the head of state and therefore would put that person as a Prime Minister inter pares with the United Kingdom Prime Minister in terms of the relationship with their Head of State.

The interchange was fascinating and not one to which I had paid close attention before this debate. (Bloody lying toad. He’d have given every thought to it. He’s playing ignorant) The question has to be resolved one way or the other and the Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution would do the Committee a service if he could adjudicate and tell us whether the interpretation of the hon. Member for 197Beaconsfield or that of the hon. Member for Dundee, East was correct. The logic of the hon. Member for Falkirk, West is impeccable in the amendments and I am sympathetic to them, but that issue, which determines in practical terms the position of the Scottish Parliament and its standing with regard to the sovereign and her advisers, needs to be clarified.

Finally and briefly, Conservative Members seemed concerned about protecting the people from the Scottish Parliament, but many people in Scotland voted for that Parliament to protect them from the Conservative party. (Because they’re ignorant enough Alex, to vote for the lesser of two evils rather than work on a real workable solution to both of you) The need to box in the Scottish Parliament’s powers, as opposed to leaving them for the Standing Orders of a Scottish Parliament, betrays an underlying attitude that is not reconciled to the reality of that Scottish Parliament. The Conservative Front-Bench spokesmen, although perhaps not some of the Back Benchers, are still in a process of denial as far as the Scottish Parliament is concerned. They may not like hearing this, but the Conservative recovery will not start until that process of denial in Westminster comes to an end.

§Mr. McLeishFirst, on the point made by the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) about mental health issues, I have consulted the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, my hon. Friend the Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) who is a neuro-surgeon, but he did not want to offer any suggestions to the Committee at this point. However, he suggested that the Scots are slightly better at differentiating between those who have a mental health problem and those who do not. I shall leave that as a question for the Committee. (haha! Cracking. Talk about a put down!) Interestingly, paragraph 9 of schedule 7 amends the Mental Health Act 1983, so the procedures to which the hon. Member for Woodspring referred will apply in a modified way to the Scottish Parliament. I will touch on some of the more serious issues when I refer to the amendments.

To answer my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) who made a point about this—I do not know whether it was a slip—the Bill provides no role for the United Kingdom Government in the selection of the First Minister, the Scottish Ministers and junior Ministers, so there is no locus for this Parliament or this Government in that regard. I do not know whether that was his point.

§Mr. McAllionCan my hon. Friend make clear the distinction to which the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) referred? If the Scottish Parliament chooses a First Minister and proffers that choice to the Queen for appointment, but the advice of the British Prime Minister is not to accept the choice, whose advice would the Queen follow? (So. Repeated. And the fact that she chooses who to follow is the proof of her power. If, as the government continuously wishes to tell us, she must follow the advice of her Prime Minister, then how could it possibly be that a PM would end up putting himself in the position where he has competition? Logic, my friends, logic! They give the entire game away with this debate.)

§Mr. McLeishThe British Prime Minister would have no locus in that appointment.

§Mr. McAllionMy hon. Friend is clearly stating that the Queen would take the side of the Scottish Parliament, as set out in the Bill, against the British Prime Minister. Therefore, the British Prime Minister does not exercise sovereign control over the affairs of this country. (Absolutely correct! BINGO!)

§Mr. McLeishThe Scottish Parliament would approve the appointment of the First Minister. The Presiding Officer would submit that appointment to the Queen and that would be it. We are talking about a substantial 198devolution of power and responsibility to the Scottish Parliament. Devolution means devolution. It will be up to the Scottish Parliament to approve the First Minister, the Scottish Ministers and the junior Ministers. Of course, those appointments will then be approved by the Queen. It is straightforward and there are no complications.

§Mr. DalyellI will not ask my hon. Friend for an answer off the top of his head, but will he write to me, because this question is not as simple as he makes out? Clause 27(7) states: This section does not affect the power of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to make laws for Scotland. In the light of that, I think that my hon. Friend should give me a considered answer in a letter.

§Mr. McLeishI shall be happy to write to my hon. Friend, but we should make it clear that clause 27(7), and the debate on it, is about sovereignty and the ability of the Westminster Parliament to make laws in any area, devolved or reserved. This evening, we are talking about the First Minister, and I repeat that he or she will be selected by the Parliament after the election and the choice will be passed to the Queen by the Presiding Officer. That is the process.

§Mr. SalmondThe point made by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) is wrong, because it relates to legislation, not to appointments. However, is it not correct that, under clause 27(7), the UK Parliament could legislate to change the method of appointing the Scottish First Minister?

§Mr. McLeishWe have debated the issue and points have been exchanged across the Committee; the view taken depends on one’s political perspective. We have made the point that this measure devolves substantial powers to Scotland—it is about devolution, not separation or independence.

The Government cannot agree to amendments Nos. 44, 76 and 87 to 90, which were tabled by my hon. Friends the Members for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) and for Dundee, East. The amendments would remove the involvement of Her Majesty in the appointment of the First Minister, other Scottish Ministers appointed under clause 44 and junior Ministers appointed under clause 46.

The Scottish Ministers, headed by the First Minister and assisted by the junior Scottish Ministers, will exercise, on behalf of Her Majesty, her prerogative and other executive functions in relation to devolved matters. (They are DELEGATED her power. It is exercised on BEHALF of her. It is not THEIR power) They will, in effect, be Her Majesty’s Government in Scotland (not a scottish sovereign government. Not even under independence with the Queen as Head of state) in relation to devolved matters. It is, therefore, entirely appropriate that the Queen should appoint the First Minister; that she should approve the appointment of other Ministers and junior Ministers to the Scottish administration; and that each of those appointees should hold office at her pleasure.

The involvement of Her Majesty does not, of course, exclude the involvement of the Parliament. On the contrary, in line with the White Paper, the Bill provides a significant role for the Scottish Parliament in the appointment of the Scottish Executive. It is a point worth making that in this place, Ministers are not approved or, selected by the House, but the Scottish First Minister and the other Scottish Ministers will be approved and voted on by the Scottish Parliament.

199That is a significant step forward in the scrutiny of the Executive. It starts at the foundation: the people will have spoken in electing Members of the Scottish Parliament who then, for the first time and unlike here, will have the ability to influence who represents the people of Scotland in ministerial posts. The significance of that step should not be lost on the Committee this evening. We see no need to amend the Bill in the way proposed, and I urge my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West withdraw the amendment.

I have listened carefully to the arguments put forward by my hon. Friends the Members for Falkirk, West and for Dundee, East in support of amendment No. 75. The nature of the post of junior Scottish Minister will differ from that of a member of the Scottish Executive. The nature of their task will be to assist the Scottish Ministers in the exercise of their functions. With that in mind, the Bill proposes a simpler mechanism for their appointment. Nevertheless, I am also aware that the Scottish Constitutional Convention recommended that all Ministers should require to be confirmed by simple majority of the full Parliament.

I am therefore happy to accept the intention behind amendment No. 75 that the Parliament should be involved in the appointment of junior Scottish Ministers. I therefore undertake to bring forward an appropriate Government amendment on Report. With that undertaking, I invite my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West not to press the amendment.

The Government cannot agree to amendment No. 254. The provisions in the Bill are intended to ensure that there is always someone able to perform the functions of the First Minister and act as head of the Scottish Administration. In practice, it is expected that each First Minister will hold office until replaced by his or her successor. However, circumstances could arise where the post falls vacant, for example on the death of the First Minister or if the First Minister is temporarily unable to act—that may fall partly into the definition proposed by the hon. Member for Woodspring. In such an event, a caretaker can be appointed to fulfil the role, pending the nomination and appointment of a new First Minister.

§Mr. GrieveI understand that point, but the clause as it stands conveys the impression—it may be no more than an impression—that the person who is acting is somehow a different animal from the First Minister, whereas my understanding is that an acting First Minister would still hold office at the Queen’s pleasure and have all the First Minister’s powers. That is the point that is opaque in the clause as it stands.

§Mr. McLeishThat is a reasonable reflection, but I must get on and cover some more of the points raised in the debate.

The mechanism for appointment of such a caretaker reflects the exceptional and transitory nature of the appointment. It lacks the formalities of the appointment of the First Minister precisely so as to avoid conveying the impression that the person is the First Minister rather than a temporary incumbent. On balance, the Government believe that the arrangements should be kept as simple as possible. The Presiding Officer is well placed to be able 200to judge which Member of the Scottish Parliament has the capacity and political credibility to fulfil that important role and I believe that it should be left to the Presiding Officer’s discretion.

The Government do not accept amendments Nos. 276 and 277. Amendment No. 276 would restrict the number of Scottish Ministers whom the First Minister can appoint. It would be inappropriate to do that, for a variety of reasons. The First Minister will have to seek the agreement of the Scottish Parliament; therefore, within the group of 129 MSPs, there is accountability and a chance to make a judgment on the number of Scottish Ministers. The Parliament will be able to withhold its approval if it thinks that there are too many nominations. In addition, through its control of salaries and allowances, the Parliament will be able to limit to a reasonable sum the expenditure on ministerial salaries.

There is a feeling on both sides of the Committee that the matter should be left to the Parliament. It is a question of maturity and of adopting a sensible perspective. Ultimately, the First Minister and the Scottish Parliament will be accountable to the people of Scotland for their actions. That will, in our view, provide the proper means of ensuring that the size of the membership of the Scottish Executive is truly appropriate.

§Dr. FoxWe are missing a great opportunity. Such a self-denying ordinance would have sent a signal to the Scottish electorate that a blank cheque is not being handed over. I am sorry that the Minister cannot accept the amendment, but we shall press it to a Division.

§Mr. McLeishThe Committee is not offering a blank cheque to anyone. We are setting up a mature, serious and responsible Parliament, and it will be up to the Members of that Parliament to decide what Ministers are required to carry out the functions and represent the interests of the Scottish people. That is appropriate and proper. We do not share the Opposition’s concerns, and I hope that they will not press the amendment.

The Government cannot accept amendments Nos. 275 and 313, which are both unnecessary and inappropriate. The circumstances described are unlikely to arise in practice, and if they did, there are mechanisms in the Bill to deal with the problem. If at any time it appeared to the Presiding Officer that the First Minister was unable to act for whatever reason, including mental illness, it would be open to him or her under clause 42(4) to designate an MSP to exercise the functions of the First Minister.

Should it become clear that the First Minister’s inability to carry out his functions was not going to be merely temporary, he would be expected to resign. In the unlikely event of his being unwilling to resign, the Scottish Parliament could effectively remove him and his Executive through a vote of no confidence. That would require the First Minister to resign and would, in turn, lead to the appointment of a new First Minister. That may seem a drastic course of action, but the likely political reality is that there would be a general recognition of the need to address the problem and the Parliament could act to ensure that the matter was resolved without delay. In any case, I submit that clauses 42(4) and 43 provide a serious process to deal with a potential problem. First, there is a temporary acceptance and accommodation of the fact that the First Minister is unable to do the job; then there is a proper procedure to repair the situation.

201The Government cannot accept amendment No. 278, which would remove from the First Minister some valuable flexibility to tailor the structure of the Scottish Administration to the demands upon it. In view of the time, I shall now sit down.

§Mr. CanavanThis is a somewhat historic occasion, as it has been many years since I last tabled an amendment that was accepted in principle by the Government. I thank my hon. Friend the Minister for that. I am pleased that the appointment of all Scottish Ministers, whether the First Minister, other Scottish Ministers or junior Ministers, will be subject to the approval of the Scottish Parliament. I am not convinced of the arguments for the role of the monarchy in the appointment of Ministers, but I shall not press that point. I shall seek to withdraw amendment No. 44 at the end of the debate and I look forward to the Government tabling an amendment similar to my amendment No. 75 on Report.

§Mr. WallaceJunior Ministers will not be members of the Scottish Executive under the terms of clause 41. Will the Minister explain why?

§Mr. McLeishThe simple answer is that we shall have the First Minister and the Scottish Ministers, and we hope that the junior Ministers will have a supportive role in the work carried out by the other Ministers.

§Mr. CanavanI beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

§Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

§Clause 42 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

§Clause 43 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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The Crown: “We apply the law when we wish to”

Posted in Law, Money, The Corrupt SOB's by Earthlinggb . on March 7, 2014

I have been asked to constitute the law of the United Kingdom from this day forth (Friday 7th March 2014).

I intend to make the law of this land absolutely fair and to apply, equally, to everyone, even me. Even I will be required to abide by this law and that is precisely why, in the law I have created, it states that I am IMMUNE from prosecution for any and all crimes which I may, “inadvertently you understand”, commit.

It is the law and the law is clear, therefore, one cannot state that I can possibly break it because the law states I am immune from prosecution (as are my agents who do my bidding, when I so decide). Now, this law is equal among all of you. No-one will have beneficial treatment over another. The law will not be provided to only those who have the money to pay for the law and a lawyer. After all, that is not law, it is simply saying whoever has the most money to pay will, invariably, win. There will be no such thing as “legal aid” because there shall be no necessity for money to come into the equation when one expects the laws of this land to be upheld. It is LAW not MONEY!

Further, there shall be NO statutory acts which show preferential treatment to one element of society over another as we have had in the past. For example, if you are unfairly dismissed from employment, there shall be NO “Employment law” which is written to protect the legal person known as the company and/or give greater protections to homosexuals, ethnic minorities, pregnant women etc. It is not that these “groups” shall not be protected, it is that they shall be treated equally along with every white, male heterosexual and every other human being.

The ONLY thing I ask is that you all accept that, within this law I have given assent to, I, personally, am immune. Please indicate your acceptance below and, if you do not accept, please state a reason why. Thank you.

[No apologies for the length of this article. It took far longer to read and comment and piece together than it will for you to read it. However, you might just find things in it (and overall) which will make your jaw drop.]

The Bitch of Buckingham!

The Bitch of Buckingham!

The Guardian 5th August 1971

Unfortunately, I cannot locate a copy of the Guardian article related to the following exchange in Parliament but suffice to say, it pointed to “money is being used to benefit London property owners, bankers and other private enterprises enabling, in the words of the Guardian, individuals to build up personal fortunes?” What is of further interest is that, while this exchange took place, there was then no further mention of it in parliamentary archives which suggests that, having been raised, someone has demanded that it not be pursued any further. You know what confirms this? THIS does:

HOL questions Guardian Crown Agents

 

What you do is cross reference the code reference to the exchange, look it up on Parliament’s website and hey presto! You find the record was closed under the 30 year rule until 1st January 2004. Do you get the feeling that someone seriously had a problem with this Guardian article?

Crown Agents is exactly what its name implies, an agent of Her Majesty the Queen. It was founded in 1833 as Crown Agents for the Colonies, and historically played a vital role in the creation and management of what British historians call the Third Empire .. Crown Agents printed the stamps and banknotes of the colonies; provided technical, engineering, and financial services; served as private bankers to the colonial monetary authorities, government officials, and heads of state; served as arms procurers, quartermasters, and paymasters for the colonial armies .. Her Majesty’s Murder, Inc. .. Crown Agents’ range of “services”–arms procurement, border controls, offshore banking–also nicely fit the “administrative requirements” of the world’s organized crime cartels .. review of some of the more sordid aspects of the recent history of Crown Agents, suggests that the firm has been at the center of the British Crown’s highly sensitive patronage of global organized crime.

The following is taken from “Managing the British Empire: The Crown Agents, 1833-1914″ By David Sunderland:

Crown moral hazard

 

Now, I assume I don’t need to explain what “moral hazard” means in this context?

However, what I will say is this: That same level of “moral hazard” acceptance is in work today. That is precisely why Police, judiciary, MPs and other agents of the “state” or the “Crown” are able to get away with what you read the papers and say “WTF? They all look after themselves and if I did that, I’d be in jail for a LONG time”. You see, that acceptance of an element of “moral hazard” (corruption, paedophilia etc)  ensures that the Crown or state agent will remain loyal to the Crown and do the job by hook or by crook. IF he/she doesn’t then all that “moral hazard” which was previously accepted and overlooked will come down on them like a ton of bricks. Is this beginning to make sense to you now?

HL Deb 05 August 1971 vol 323 cc1257-611257

CROWN AGENTS’ INVESTMENT POLICY

§12.5 p.m.

THE EARL OF SELKIRK My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

§[The Question was as follows:

§To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are satisfied that the investment policy pursued by the Crown Agents for Overseas Governments and Administrations is calculated to render best assistance to the economy of this country.]

§THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE, FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE (THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN) My Lords, the Crown Agents invest funds on behalf of their overseas principals, who are mainly independent Government and other public bodies. They do this on the instructions and authority of their principals and the British Government do not intervene in these operations. (Yes but this does not answer the question and is never intended to. However, these people get away with pure evasion continuously)

THE EARL OF SELKIRK My Lords, I think that I should say that I have no team co-ordination with the Guardian although I am aware that some of the staff were not uninterested in this subject. May I ask the noble Marquess whether I understood him to say that although the Crown Agents invest very large sums of money—and it is public money—the Government have no routine discussions on investment policy and give no approval to investments, and certainly have no power to direct the Crown Agents in any way?

§THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN My Lords, that is quite correct. The Crown Agents are entirely responsible to their own principals in these matters and are 1258not responsible to the British Government. (So the Crown agents have absolutely no accountability to the British government – confirmed. This is because the Crown itself has no accountability to the British government AND YET, the Crown is financed by us and the investments by the Crown use public money – i.e. tax receipts. Yet they invest for anyone they wish – as you will see – and in anything they wish including genocide.)

§LORD PEDDIE My Lords, may I ask the noble Marquess whether or not in the initial stages the Crown Agents are appointed by Her Majesty’s Government? May I also ask whether Her Majesty’s Government can confirm or deny that executives of the Crown Agents hold, directly or through nominees, shares in companies promoted by Crown Agents’ funds? (You’ve heard of the Bank of England Nominees I assume?)

§THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN My Lords, it is certainly true that the Crown Agents are appointed by Her Majesty’s Government. I think that I should need notice of the second supplementary question. Perhaps I may write to the noble Lord on it. (Again, unwilling to answer the nominee question in public debate. Yes they are appointed by HM Government but then HM Government (not the opposition) are Ministers of the Crown and they appoint on behalf of their boss at the time – Her Majesty)

§BARONESS WHITE My Lords, I sup-post that we have all read the Guardian this morning; and I am sure that the noble Marquess will appreciate that we should wish to have some comment from Her Majesty’s Government about the allegations mentioned by my noble friend, which are very disquieting.

§THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN My Lords, my attention has been drawn to the article in theGuardian this morning although I must confess that I have not yet had time to read it closely. I have no reason to suspect that it is substantially inaccurate but on behalf of my right honourable friend I would appreciate time in which to consider the matter. (And having considered it, the entire debate, thereafter, went silent. After this exchange, the discussion was locked up under the 30 year rule until 2004. It wouldn’t even be noticed after that.)

§BARONESS LLEWELYN-DAVIES OF HASTOE My Lords, in view of the uncertainties which may have been created abroad, as well as in this country, could not the noble Marquess promise that there will be an investigation and that we shall have a report as soon as possible? (I am assuming here but I would consider that the “uncertainties” would be this leaders and organisations abroad who had invested with the Crown Agents and would be worried that their investments would be exposed if this story continued to have legs and people started talking)

§THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN My Lords, I shall certainly undertake to convey to my right honourable friend the feelings of the noble Baroness, and indeed of the House, in this matter.

§LORD BROCKWAY My Lords, in view of the statement by the noble Marquess that in his view the Guardian article is probably accurate, can he answer two questions? First, to whom are1259the Crown Agents responsible? Secondly, are the developing countries aware that their money is being used to benefit London property owners, bankers and other private enterprises enabling, in the words of the Guardian, individuals to build up personal fortunes? (It was originally tax coercion throughout the commonwealth that the Crown Agents ensured but what seems to be the case here is that, having expanded to outside of the commonwealth, which they did and would take money/investment from anyone, the Agents, on behalf of the Crown, significantly enhanced – and I mean significantly – the wealth of the Crown itself but also the agents themselves. This has been documented as far back as the 1800s. The monarch knew but would allow it to a certain extent)

§THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN My Lords, the answer to the noble Lord’s first question is, as I hope I made clear in my original Answer, that the Crown Agents are responsible to their principals, the Governments concerned or whoever they may be, in this matter. So far as the noble Lord’s second question is concerned, this is a matter for the Crown Agents’ principals. I should have thought that they have every right to ask the Agents how they are investing their money and in what activities they are indulging. I think that I cannot say more than that. This is something that the principals are perfectly entitled to find out from the Crown Agents. (But the problem is you corrupt bastard is that OUR tax money and people working on behalf of what is meant to be OUR “Crown” should not be dealing with overseas dictators – not to mention our own dictator – and investing in arms and drugs!)

§LORD FLETCHER My Lords, may I ask the noble Marquess this question? When he has had the opportunity to read the article published in to-day’s Guardian he will observe that the Crown Agent is quoted as saying that he has some kind of responsibility to the Foreign Secretary. The degree of that responsibility is not obvious, but it seems that there is some kind of responsibility for which, presumably, the noble Marquess’s right honourable friend is responsible to Parliament. Would the noble Marquess bear in mind that it would be very disquieting if it were the fact, as is suggested, that in pursuing the investment policies which the Crown Agents are following, they are not supposed to have any regard to the best interests of the economy of this country? (STUPID, ignorant bastard! Yes the Crown Agent has a responsibility to the Foreign Secretary because the Foreign secretary wears TWO hats! He works for the government with one hat BUT he is also a CROWN MINISTER with the other hat! So the Crown Agent is NOT reporting or responsible to the government but to the Crown!)

§THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN My Lords, I take the noble Lord’s point and I will certainly pass it on to my right honourable friend.

§LORD PARGITER My Lords, would the noble Marquess say whether or not Crown Agents, as Crown Agents, enjoy any legal immunity under the Crown?

§THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN My Lords, I am afraid that, without notice, I cannot answer that question. (It was a simple question and the answer is yes BUT the Marquess would prefer to check first because we’re getting into deep water when it touches on the “Crown” in any way shape or form)

1260

§LORD THORNEYCROFT My Lords, may I put it to the noble Marquess, before we pursue the hunting of the Crown Agents too far, that we might bear in mind that for many years they have probably done a remarkably good job of work and that we might possibly end up in a much worse position if we start changing everything too rapidly without thinking very carefully about it. (sure they did. YOU probably wouldn’t have the wealth you have if they hadn’t!)

§LORD PEDDIE My Lords, my question relates to existing circumstances. What immediate steps would be taken by Her Majesty’s Government if the disquiet which could be generated arising out of recent discussions involved a substantial and immediate withdrawal of funds on the part of the principals who are now associated with the Crown Agents?

§THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN My Lords, I do not want to dodge that question (yes you do!); but I think that it really is a matter for the Treasury. I will undertake to pass all these questions to my right honourable friend. I hope that I have satisfied the House at any rate that in these matters the Crown Agents are basically responsible to their principals, with whom they have to deal.

§LORD BESWICK My Lords, there is some misunderstanding about the responsibility here. Who appoints these people in the first place? And who has the power to dismiss them? On what basis are they appointed? And on what basis would they be dismissed if the occasion arose?

§THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN My Lords, the Crown Agents are appointed by Her Majesty’s Government. (Be more clear! Her Majesty’s government acting on behalf of the Crown! There is a subtle but immense difference!)

§LORD BROCKWAY My Lords, may I ask one more question? Is the Minister aware that there is a document published by the Crown Agents which lists their investments. Although this document is secret, I have had a copy. May I ask the Minister why, if these are public funds, it should not be publicly announced where these investments are placed? (haha this cracks me up! Are some of these Lords really this thick?)

§THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN My Lords, the noble Lord has been more fortunate than I. I have not seen a copy of this document, I am afraid. (Evades the question nevertheless)

1261

§BARONESS LLEWELYN-DAVIES OF HASTOE My Lords, when the noble Marquess has had time to read the article, I think he will find that it is not a Treasury responsibility but that the officials who are there now were appointed by the Minister of Overseas Development.

§LORD DAVIES OF LEEK My Lords, while no one wants to cast aspersions on the Crown Agents (I do! But I totally understand why you don’t)—I have had some experience of the excellent work done by them in South-East Asia—may I ask that, when public money is involved, the Government will try in future to see that the greatest possible information is given to both Houses of Parliament?

§THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN My Lords, I think that I can undertake to accede to the noble Lord’s request.

THE EARL OF SELKIRK My Lords, would not the noble Marquess agree that it is very important not in any way to impugn the integrity of the Crown Agents, and that the sooner these points are announced in public the better? (“That’s why we’re going to hide them for 30 years”)

§THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN My Lords, I quite agree with my noble friend.

THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (EARL JELLICOE) My Lords, I feel that we have had a good hunt on this subject, and perhaps the noble Earl, Lord Arran, may now be allowed to get into the act.

No-one knows what the Windsors really own because it is forbidden for Parliament even to discuss the fact that the Queen keeps her private wealth a secret. Such secrecy is vital to prevent outrage by her ‘subjects’ and to allow her to use her privilege for insider trading, a practice which is illegal. Insider trading is to be in a position to hear privileged information which could be used to make a financial killing and then to use that knowledge to do just that.

The Queen, with her colossal portfolio of global investments, is in the perfect position to make unlimited profits. She is constantly kept informed, via meetings with prime ministers, ministers, officials, British Intelligence and other sources, of the secret happenings in the world. She knows through these channels and others, where the best and worst investments are going to be and through her secret network she can ensure that the most effective financial use is made of that information. It was exposed in 1977 that the Bank of England, the creation of the Black Nobility, had established a company called the Bank of England Nominees Ltd (BOEN), to hide the Queen’s investments.

Nine official meetings are held each year and the government ministers stand to attention while the Queen is told of the government measures they are asking the Queen to approve. This Privy Council of inner-circle politicians, courtiers and public servants have to bow to the Queen and shake her hand before standing in line and they are sworn to conduct their business in the utmost secrecy.

Another of the Windsor-Black Nobility vehicles for global manipulation is the Crown Agents. This organization was formed in 1833 as ‘Crown Agents for the Colonies’ to run the day-to-day administration in the Empire and serve as private bankers to government officials, colonial authorities and heads of state. It also supplied a vast range of goods, including arms. Given the methods and background of the British Empire, it would certainly have been involved in the drugs market. The Crown Agents has a long history of involvement with organized crime and operates covert arms shipments into Africa which are used to cause the genocidal wars.

This was, and is, a Crown Agency working for the monarch and yet had its entire debt guaranteed by the British government. In the 1970s it was bailed out by a Bank of England rescue costing hundreds of millions of pounds. For many years it managed the personal wealth of the Sultan of Brunei, the friend of the Queen and a funder of many private projects for Prince Philip, Prince Charles and George Bush. The Sultan is also a financial backer of unofficial British and American Intelligence operations and a man who has funded the operation of Mohamed Al Fayed, father of Dodi.

The Crown Agents were ‘privatised’ in 1996 with the name Crown Agents for Overseas Government and Administrations Ltd. ‘Privatisation’ is Brotherhood-speak for the transfer of power from Black Nobility via government agency to Black Nobility via direct ownership. The new Crown Agents acts as a holding company for a long list of companies and ventures and it continues as before as a vital cog in the network throughout the world. It’s chairman, David H. Probert, is the former director of the British weapons manufacturer, Birmingham Small Arms Ltd, and a director is F. Cassell, a Companion of the Bath (a Queen-awarded title), and former executive director of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for Great Britain.

The Crown Agents Foundation, which holds the share capital in trust, is headed by Sir David Rowe-Ham, Knight Grand Cross of the British Empire. This trust includes Barclays Bank, Standard and Chartered Bank (David Cameron’s family connections), Unilever, Tate and Lyle, Securicor (a global operator of ‘security services’), British Telecom, the Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum (headed by Prince Charles), and the Aga Khan Foundation. The same old crowd.

The Crown Agents manage the customs services for Mozambique and, through a company called Europe SA, is in charge of all economic construction procurement for Bosnia… yes, Bosnia. It is also involved in a joint venture with a Monaco-based company, ES-KO, to provide all the food for United Nations peacekeeping forces in Angola and Bosnia.32 So the more wars and conflict, the more money the Crown Agents has the potential to make.

An important part of the Windsor-Black Nobility-City of London web are the so-called ‘City Livery Companies’. These allege to represent the various groups of merchants like the gun makers, stationers and newspaper makers, the goldsmiths, and
such like. In fact they are secret societies fundamental to the control of the City institutions and much further afield. In the 1350s, in the wake of the plague known as the Black Death, government of the City was passed from the ward councils to the City Livery Companies.

HC Deb 26 November 2002 vol 395 cc153-4153

§35. Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham) What the Lord Chancellor’s policy is on the personal immunity of the Sovereign in relation to actions in court. [81465]

§The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor’s Department (Ms Rosie Winterton) The policy that the sovereign has personal immunity in relation to actions in court remains unchanged. (She’s immune so shut up!)

§Dr. Cable Does the Minister agree that the recent application of that principle of immunity has caused considerable embarrassment to the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the courts and, not least, the monarchy? Will she therefore contemplate reviewing those arrangements, particularly bearing in mind the comment made yesterday by David Pannick QC that one person’s liberty as a defendant should not take second place to someone else’s status? (It doesn’t matter what Pannick says. If it’s a choice between the liberty of a subject and exposing the Queen and Crown for what it actually is, then who do you think wins?)

§Ms Winterton The hon. Gentleman clearly has strong views about the matter. However, on 4 November, at one of his regular press conferences, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in relation to the Paul Burrell case that he did not believe that the constitutional position should change. ( So? That’s one man’s opinion formed by the fact he is a private contractor to the very person who wouldn’t want it changed!)

§Kali Mountford (Colne Valley) Does not this case have wider implications for immunity in general terms and, in particular, for Crown immunity? Does my hon. Friend have a view on the implications for Crown immunity, and how can Members of the House have a say in what happens about that?

§Ms WintertonConsideration has been given to the quite different issue of the state’s immunity in legal proceedings. For example, a recent consultation paper, “Revitalising Health and Safety”, contains proposals for removing or modifying that immunity. In the light of the responses to that document, an interdepartmental working group is considering the implications, and advice will be given to Ministers about Crown immunity.

§Mr. William Cash (Stone)Has the Lord Chancellor formally inquired as to what law, procedure or judicial rule led the judge in the case of R v. Burrell to convene prosecuting counsel in private and exclude defence counsel, which is usually done only when a public interest immunity certificate is applied for? If not, why not, and will he do so?

Will the Minister confirm to the House that what the Attorney-General wrote to me on 6 November is the case, namely: No minister was asked to give a PII certificate or sign one, nor was a draft certificate ever prepared, or any consideration given by anyone to preparing such a certificate to place before the judge”?

154

§Ms WintertonThe hon. Gentleman knows very well that he addressed those issues to the Attorney-General, who has replied to him. The Lord Chancellor played no part whatsoever in the Paul Burrell trial.

 

Crown Prerogative

HC Deb 18 January 1988 vol 125 c492W492W

§Mr. Campbell-Savours

To ask the Prime Minister if she will make a statement on the exercise of the prerogative rights of the Crown in relation to the conduct of Government employees.

§Mr. Campbell-Savours

To ask the Prime Minister if any actions in exercise of a prerogative right of the Crown have been taken since 1979.

§The Prime Minister

Innumerable actions in exercise of prerogative power have been taken since 1979; these range from the signature of treaties to the grant of the royal pardon.

§Mr. Campbell-Savours

To ask the Prime Minister what representations Her Majesty’s Government have received concerning exercise of prerogative rights of the Crown in respect of actions which could otherwise be subject to criminal proceedings. (Hahaha. That was hilarious! He’s obviously a switched on and funny man!)

§The Prime Minister

None so far as I am aware.

§Mr. Campbell-Savours

To ask the Prime Minister if she will introduce legislation to permit a servant of the Crown to carry out a criminal act in the exercise of a prerogative right of the Crown. (Again, excellent. :-))

§Mr. Campbell-Savours

To ask the Prime Minister what proposals she has for precisely defining the conditions under which the powers are exercisable under prerogatives of the Crown.

§The Prime Minister

None.

He was just getting the questions put on record that’s all. Maggie didn’t have a lot to say did she?

HC Deb 15 June 1995 vol 261 cc663-4W663W

§Mr. Foulkes To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list all areas within(a) his Department, (b) agencies under his Department’s control and 664W(c) organisations for which he has ministerial responsibility to which Crown immunity applies; what consideration he has given to removing this; and if he will make a statement. [28647]

§Mr. Redwood An Act of Parliament is presumed not to bind the Crown unless the contrary intention is clearly stated, or there is a necessary implication that the Crown is to be bound. Ministers and civil servants will not necessarily share the Crown’s immunity from criminal prosecution.

The Government policy on Crown immunity, as set out in Cm 1599, “The Citizen’s Charter—Raising the Standard”, is that Crown immunity is being progressively reduced as legislative opportunities arise. In the meantime, Crown bodies are expected to behave as though they were bound by regulations. (Well, if they are expected to behave as though they were bound like the rest of us, then MAKE them bound by the regulations man! But no!)

HC Deb 22 June 1995 vol 262 c376W376W

§Mr. Foulkes To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list all areas within(a) his Department, (b) agencies under his Department’s control and (c) organisations for which he has ministerial responsibility to which Crown immunity applies; what consideration he has given to removing this; and if he will make a statement. [28658]

§Mr. Heseltine[ holding answer 15 June 1995]: An Act of Parliament is presumed not to bind the Crown unless the contrary intention is clearly stated, or there is a necessary implication that the Crown is to be bound. Ministers and civil servants will not necessarily share the Crown’s immunity from criminal prosecution. (It depends if she likes them or not or if she’s having a period! But then the periods don’t come into it any longer do they?)

The Government’s policy on Crown immunity, as set out in CM1599—”The Citizen’s Charter—Raising the Standard”—is that Crown immunity is being progressively reduced, as legislative opportunities arise. In the meantime, Crown bodies are expected to behave as though they were bound by regulations.

Detailed information on the circumstances where Crown immunity does not apply is not held centrally, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Tagged with: ,

BBC & MI5

Posted in "Terrorism", The Corrupt SOB's, Uncategorized by Earthlinggb . on December 15, 2011

The BBC and MI5. You tell people this and you even show them and, no matter, they STILL think you wear a “tinfoil hat”. The problem with such people is that is all they have as ammunition against what is plainly in their face and, if they were to allow themselves to acknowledge these things, they would become very ill at ease and, perhaps, would not be able to handle it.

The point is, the BBC is and always has been, what so many of us know: A “programmed” propaganda outfit of the establishment programming (in so many ways) what and how the British people and many over the world within the commonwealth and elsewhere, should think. Nevertheless, us Brits will still wave our little flags at a Royal family which is screwing us all to the wall. Even screwing the families of the very soldiers who, ignorantly, die for her, her establishment, their prized possessions (countries and corporations). Ahh if only the typical soldier had a brain huh?

BBC MI5

The Telegraph: BBC & MI5

TRY TO DEFINE THE CROWN?

While it is entirely undemocratic and answers to noone.

Tony Benn: Would have been Britain’s Ron Paul (perhaps even better).

Mr Tony Benn (Chesterfield)

The debate is beginning to get to the central question, which is not the details of how we handle the security services or the official secrecy, but the constitutional relationships that are changed by the legislation that is to come before us. I believe that I am expressing an anxiety that goes far beyond the party of which I am a member about the evidence that has come to light regarding the threats to freedom by those who were supposed to defend it. Therefore, I consider that the proposals made by the Government in the Prime Minister’s speech from the Throne are far from being evidence of liberation, and offer evidence of tightening up. We should look at that first.

There is no question whatsoever—I am not seeking to blame everybody in the security services—that there have been people working in high positions in MI5 and MI6, who have used the power vested in them under the so-called well-tried mechanisms of the Maxwell Fyfe directive to undermine political democracy in Britain.

Secondly, those people have done so outside any form of ministerial control. My right hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) has been Home Secretary, and others in Governments of whom I have been a part have occupied that position, and I cannot believe that they knew what was going on. If they did not know what was going on, the Maxwell Fyfe directive was wholly ineffective in its operation—and I understand it is to be weakened in the new legislation.

Thirdly, when evidence of this behaviour came to light, far from the Government pursuing the law breakers for their law breaking, they pursued the man who described the law breaking for his description of it. A Government who purport to pursue a policy of law and order made no issue of the fact that in Mr. Peter Wright‘s book—after all, he was a serious and respected member of the intelligence services—he described crimes that were committed, and made no attempt to investigate those crimes or bring him to justice. His only offence was that he wrote about them.

Then, of course, we come up against the justification for their action, and that is where the constitutional areas become most important. Anyone who has read any of the histories on these matters will know that the security services do not feel in any way responsible to the Government of the day. They believe they are responsible to the Crown. They represent the Crown in order to deal with subversion. I shall try to define the Crown and subversion in a moment.

Two new elements have rightly been brought into the debate by the hon. Member for Thanet, South (Mr. Aitken), which must be put upon the record. First of all, the British security services are supervised completely by the American security services. I know that because I had responsibilities for many years for those areas that were a part of what was called the “special relationship”. The Americans control our security services, supervise them, lay down the rules under which they operate, and warn them against people whom they regard as unreliable in Britain, because that is the condition upon which the United States makes nuclear weapons available to us.

The second threat—rather more shadowy but none the less real—is that, within a federal Europe, it is the intention of the Commission that security would be seen as a federal function, in part because the internal frontiers will cease to matter, and the Community will have to tackle what it defines as subversion on a federal basis.

The methods used by the security services must be set out. There is widespread vetting not only of civil servants, but, of course, of those in defence industries. The Clerk of the House and all the officials of the House are vetted by the security services. This was revealed in evidence submitted to the Committee of Privileges of which I am a member. That says a lot for the division between the legislature and the Executive, because the Executive vets the officials of the legislature. The BBC is vetted down to the level of anyone is involved in the preparation of current affairs or news. The research assistants of Members of Parliament are vetted. We know that from my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), who brought the matter to the House.

The security services penetrate other services and actions of our national life. I shall give three examples. Cecil King, who purported to be a newspaper proprietor or a manager, was an agent of MI5, as was Tom Driberg, a former chairman of the Labour party. Lord Rothschild, who, when I worked closely with him, I took to be an industrialist brought in to help our think tank, was actually working for MI5 throughout that period.

Massive telephone interception and the opening of letters occur. Charles II nationalised the Post Office in 1660 because he wanted to see what people were writing to one another. Therefore, the Home Secretary is carrying on a good tradition in trying to intercept postal and telephone services and to legalise it. The Home Secretary is the most appropriate person to be moving the Bill, because when I tried to make a speech in 1976 in a church in his constituency at Burford to celebrate the Levellers, he wrote to the Secretary of State for Education and Science to get the grant for the Workers’ Educational Association withdrawn. He is therefore consistent in his opposition to dissent in any century by anybody.

Hon. Douglas Hurd (Witney)

rose

Mr Tony Benn (Chesterfield)

I have the correspondence.

Hon. Douglas Hurd (Witney)

I remember inquiring 12 years ago why the taxpayers’ money was being used to help the right hon. Gentleman support the Levellers in Burford.

Mr Tony Benn (Chesterfield)

The right hon. Gentleman, with the sort of naivety that adds to his charm, confesses to the charge that I laid against him, that when he heard I was to speak at a church in Burford about the Levellers, he wrote to the Secretary of State for Education and Science to try to bring pressure to bear so as to withdraw a grant from the WEA that had invited me. He has confirmed my argument, and he is consistent. He does not believe in dissent in any century, including the present one.

The other area in which the security services have operated is in redefining subversion. There is no doubt that the phrase that became popular during the miners’ strike of “the enemy within” had been defined much earlier by the security services. The enemy within includes the trade union movement and many members of the Labour party and peace movement. That definition was undoubtedly one of the factors that led to the attempt to destroy Harold Wilson. In my opinion, it was also used, but for different reasons, to remove the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), because the security services thought that he was too weak.

The methods used by the security services include the collection of damaging information and fabricating misinformation—as with the forging of Ted Short‘s bank account, which was leaked to Chapman Pincher. So much for lifelong confidentiality, when the security services regularly use certain journalists to feed out damaging information to destroy people they do not like. One cannot overlook the fact that Peter Wright confirmed Anthony Nutting‘s claim that Sir Anthony Eden ordered the assassination of another head of state, President Nasser. Anthony Nutting confirmed on television what Wright had written.

The question one must now ask is, what safeguards will there be under the new Act? Supposing Ted Short, as Lord President, had appealed to discover whether his bank account had been forged, to whom would his appeal have gone? Would it have gone to the Cabinet? No. Would it have gone to the Prime Minister? No. It would have gone to a commissioner appointed for the purpose by a previous Government.

When Bruce Kent‘s telephone was tapped, what safeguards would have existed then? If he had written to whoever it may have been and asked, “Is my phone being tapped?”, the only answer he would have received was not whether his phone was being tapped but whether the security services were abusing their rights—and those rights are covered by warrant and by a commission. The victims do not know what is being done to them, and the perpetrators do not wish to make complaints that might reveal the crimes they are perpetrating. The exceptions are one or two people such as Clive Ponting and Cathy Massiter, who were moved by their consciences, to act.

I turn to the matter of lifelong confidentiality to the Crown, which presumably should have bound Peter Wright. Who is the Crown? Did the Queen tell Peter Wright to try to destroy the Prime Minister? Obviously not. Did the Prime Minister tell Peter Wright to destroy himself? Obviously not. Did the Home Secretary tell Peter Wright to try to destroy the Government? Obviously not. The Crown is the code name we use for those central areas of Government in defence, intelligence and international relations—a state within the state—that the Government, and, I regret to say, previous Governments, did not wish to be subject to parliamentary scrutiny or discussion. The Crown is a term used to cover a concrete emplacement surrounded by barbed wire that the Home Secretary thinks needs fresh protection. It is not that he intends it to be subject to public scrutiny.

Tony Benn Crown

I asked the Home Secretary whether Ministers, who, after all, are Crown servants, will be covered by the new rules. It will be difficult to bind the Prime Minister to lifelong confidentiality as Bernard Ingham, on her instruction, breaches it at 11 o’clock every morning for the benefit of selected lobby correspondents who never make clear what has gone on. Are we really saying that anyone who is elected to Parliament, who becomes a Minister and discovers things he believes that it is in the public interest should be made known, will be bound to confidentiality for life? Or will anybody else? I have cited Ministers as they are uniquely accountable to those who elect them.

The reality is that there is nothing different about security. In its proper sense, security is part of the country’s defence forces, and no one denies that the country needs defence forces. But contrast the way security is treated with the other parts of the defence forces. Every year Parliament debates defence policy, but it never debates security policy—I am not talking about security operations. Parliament never discusses the definition of a subversive person—which is currently based on a phrase written years ago by a civil servant for Lord Harris in the House of Lords. We have never discussed whether as a Parliament we believe that being a member of CND makes a person subversive. That was decided by the Ministry of Defence, which told Cathy Massiter to bug Bruce Kent.

Parliament debates defence policy and votes a budget for the country’s defence establishment. It does not know the budget of the security establishment. Parliament knows the Chiefs of the Defence Staff and can ask parliamentary questions about defence matters. The issue is only confused by those who say that we cannot be told about individual security operations. Of course nobody wants to know a rumour that a bomber is coming to London. We do not want a parliamentary question that leads to the Minister responsible replying, “We think that a bomber is staying at a Bayswater hotel.” That is not the point at issue. The question is whether a state within the state, employing people with no feeling of responsibility to the Government elected by the people of this country, can continue as it is.

The Government wish to conceal information because that suits their book. I dare say that all Governments will want to conceal information—[Interruption.] It is not my purpose to make a party point. I hope that hon. Members will give me some credit. I am trying to raise a matter that is of equal concern in all parts of the House and to every elector. It would not alter matters very much if my right hon. and hon. Friends were occupying the Government Benches and those of hon. Gentlemen were seated on the Opposition Benches. I am clear about that. If hon. Gentlemen will look at the record, they will find that, as a Cabinet Minister, I raised the same questions on the Labour party’s national executive and submitted a memorandum that warned of the dangers. That was 10 years ago.

When one considers that the Government sent in the police to remove the Zircon film, and the prosecutions of Tisdall and Ponting, one realises that the real conflict concerns both sides of the House and those who elect us. We have heard much about the oxygen of publicity for Sinn Fein. Democracy lives by the oxygen of information. If one cuts off the oxygen of information and releases instead the poisonous gas of secrecy, misinformation and news management, one destroys the basis on which this House safeguards our people. The House of Commons is the real guarantor of the liberties of the people, not those individuals in little offices who have their own ideas about who is subversive and who engage in bugging, blackmailing and in destroying the reputations of those whom they do not like.

Democracy’s second safeguard is conscience. There is no substitute in law, administrative action or court ruling for the person, be they man or woman, who says, “What is being done is wrong and I shall speak my mind and take the consequences.” If one removes the safeguard of conscience from people who, in the course of their work, may come across something they feel it would be in the public interest to divulge—whether one gaols them, punishes them, or makes them into public villains—they would only be doing what we told the Germans at the Nuremberg trials they should have done, which was to disregard unjust orders—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Of course that is what the Nuremberg trials were all about.

Parliament must protect these principles. In many ways I share the view of the hon. Member for Thanet, South. Next week I shall have been here 38 years. I have never known a House of Commons that has been so craven in surrendering one of its rights after another—surrendering powers to the EEC, accepting 120 foreign bases, and now, in the name of security, handing over even greater powers to the Executive. If we do not stand up here and now it will be too late—

Mr Robert Rhodes James (Cambridge)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Tony Benn (Chesterfield)

I am approaching my last sentence.

We must make a stand here and now or we shall find that, in the name of freedom, we are surrendering our liberties.

WHO THE HELL ARE THESE PEOPLE? WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY? AND WHY ARE THEY IMMUNE TO LAW? 

BECAUSE ROTHSCHILD’S A JEW? AND THEREFORE, BRINGING CHARGES WOULD BE DEEMED ANTI-SEMITIC?

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North)

To ask the Attorney-General whether he is considering bringing any prosecutions under the Official Secrets Act arising from the “Spycatcher” episode.

Sir Patrick Mayhew (Tunbridge Wells)

No, Sir.

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North)

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us why he is not yet prosecuting Lord Rothschild?

Sir Patrick Mayhew (Tunbridge Wells)

My answer as to why no prosecution was being brought was given several months ago. To bring such a prosecution would not have been in conformity with the Attorney-General‘s published guidelines for prosecutors.

Mr Michael Fallon (Darlington)

Does my right hon. and learned Friend find it extraordinary that, even after yesterday’s outrage, the Opposition still do not support the need to uphold the duty of confidentiality of those who work in our security service in order to defend the country from terrorism and subversion?

Sir Patrick Mayhew (Tunbridge Wells)

I very much agree with what my hon. Friend has said. There seems to be a certain ambivalence in the attitude of Opposition Members to that litigation. I venture to suggest that if we were not prepared to incur the cost of litigation to uphold the duty to which my hon. Friend has referred, the cost would very soon be more than money.

TRY TO DEFINE THE CROWN?

SO WHO THE HELL IS IT THAT ARE PROSECUTING US?

AN UNKNOWN, CENTRAL STATE WITHIN A STATE, SUBJECT TO NO-ONE AND SUBJECT TO NO PARLIAMENTARY SCRUTINY?

AND THE CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE WANTS TO DO WHAT? PROSECUTE WHO? FOR WHAT?

WHO IS PROSECUTING US?

As for this piece of absolute trash:

Sir John Morris (Aberavon)

I, too, wholeheartedly welcome the Attorney-General back to his place in the House.

What is the prime consideration in relation to prosecutions? Is it damage to national security, or is it political embarrassment? Does the Attorney-General maintain consistency in his approach to Miss Tisdall and Mr. Ponting and to others such as Mr. West, Mr. Pincher, Lord Rothschild and the security men who may have leaked information to those people? Has not section 2 of the Official Secrets Act been virtually put out to grass and replaced in practical terms as a damage limitation exercise by actions for breach of confidentiality?

Mr Michael Havers (Wimbledon)

I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his kind remarks. He used the word prosecutions, not for the first time during my questions. In fact, the proceedings in Australia are civil proceedings. There is no way in which we can prosecute under the Official Secrets Act in another country. With regard to the action in Australia, the principle has been brought out clearly today that it is the Government’s determination to establish that once a man joins a service in which he promises to keep secret for the rest of his life all that he finds, that principle should be upheld.

So you cannot prosecute in another Commonwealth country where the Queen is the Head of State? Her Majesty had her Governor General destroy the Government of Gough Whitlam in 1975!

So Her Majesty can do that but Her Majesty cannot prosecute in Australia, an individual who has broken the law relating to her Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act? Didn’t we just say it is the CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE?

Then if the CROWN can’t prosecute certain people then what sort of CROWN is this?

I’ll tell you what sort of CROWN it is: It is a CROWN, within which ROTHSCHILD plays a very significant part alongside his lackey Lizzie!

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