Support our Nation today - please donate here

Sunak rebuked as PMs ‘dodged Intelligence and Security Committee since 2014’

05 Dec 2023 3 minute read
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Photo Daniel Leal/PA Wire

Rishi Sunak has been rebuked for hiding security matters from proper oversight by the parliamentary watchdog scrutinising UK intelligence activities.

The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) – made up of senior MPs and peers – complained that they have not met a prime minister since 2014.

In its annual report, the panel expressed concern that it had not been given oversight of parts of policy departments to which security responsibilities have been devolved, despite past assurances by ministers that its remit would be extended to cover any new bodies.

Effective scrutiny

It said the Government has opposed bids to add the departments to the committee’s remit by updating the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the ISC and the Prime Minister, therefore effectively blocking “all attempts to ensure effective scrutiny by Parliament”.

They include the investment security unit in the Cabinet Office; the telecoms security and resilience team and the counter disinformation unit in the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology; the transport security, resilience and response group in the Department for Transport; the office of communications in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; and the intelligence policy department in the Foreign Office.

“The ISC is the only body that has regular access to protectively marked information that is sensitive for national security reasons, such that it is in a position to scrutinise effectively the work of the security and intelligence Agencies and of those parts of departments whose work is directly concerned with intelligence and security matters,” the committee said in a press release to accompany the report.

“We again, therefore, urge the Prime Minister to meet the commitments made to Parliament and to the public, and not to hide security matters from proper oversight.”

Serious concern

The committee chairman, Sir Julian Lewis, said the ISC’s current lack of oversight of those bodies is a “matter of serious concern”.

“It is deeply disappointing that effective scrutiny of national security issues is being prevented, in direct contravention of commitments given to Parliament. We question whether the Government has really thought through the consequences of its current position.”

The MPs and peers also lamented the lack of a meeting with the prime minister for nine years.

Such a meeting took place annually for 20 years following the panel’s establishment in 1994.

The absence of a meeting since 2014 is “unacceptable and reflects the disengagement from the ISC of successive prime ministers,” the committee said.

“The committee urges the Prime Minister to meet with it as a matter of priority: there are matters of significant constitutional importance at stake.”

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 months ago

It appears that Parliamentary accountability is no longer practiced by UK governments – so democracy itself is only used as a figleaf behind which the UK political leadership makes decisions in the interests of those not accountabable to the electorate

Last edited 6 months ago by Dewi

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.