We would have liked to have been able to comment on the latest Intelligence and Security Committee's Annual report, which appears to have been leaked, at least in in part to The Guardian newspaper, but it does not yet appear to be online on the Cabinet Office website.
The Guardian is running a story on the cancellation of phase 2 of the delayed SCOPE intelligence sharing computer system: Multimillion pound security project shelved by ministers
Perhaps the Intelligence Agencies do not trust the rest of Whitehall with their intelligence sources, and do not want SCOPE to be rolled out to thousands of people.
The House of Commons is due to debate the (usually heavily censored) Intelligence and Security Committee's Annual Report tomorrow, Thursday 17th July 2008, but obviously the General Public are not to be allowed to participate , or to lobby their Members of Parliament ahead of the debate.
Thursday 17 July 2008
Motion: to approve resolutions relating to the Intelligence and Security Committee
Debate: on the Intelligence and Security Committee Annual Report 2007-08
How does leaking details from this (censored) Annual report, only to favoured mainstream media journalists, ahead of the supposedly informed debate in the House of Commons, but not making it available to the public via the world wide web, give the impression of anything other than media spin and a deliberate attempt to hide bad news ?
This is not acceptable behavior for a Parliamentary Committee which is supposed to perform some sort of independent scrutiny on behalf of the public, but who seem instead to collude with the Executive branch of Government and the bureaucracy, in keeping as much information as possible from the general public, and even from other Members of Parliament.
UPDATE: Just to be clear, the Cabinet Office website does have a copy of the Intelligence and Security Committee Annual Report for 2006 - 2007, and the Government's Response to that report.
In both of these documents, phase 2 of the SCOPE project was only, apparently, delayed, rather than cancelled, as the Guardian reports.
The House of Commons is only now, in mid July, "debating" this heavily censored and anodyne report, some 6 months after it was published on the 29th January 2008, and which had actually been submitted on 4th December 2007, and only actually covers the period up to October 2007.
The Parliament website therefore gave the wrong impression, that the House of Commons would be debating the 2007 - 2008 report.
We commented on this report back on 29th January 2008, along with the appointment of Margaret Beckett to the chair of the Committee.
This is not proper, transparent, democratic scrutiny of the working of the secret agencies or the Government policies, which are supposed to protect our national security. and defend our freedoms.