MPs and Parliament must now respond to this major problem


Over many years there have been plenty of examples of corruption by individual MPs, Ministers and even occasionally whole Governments. How this current situation compares to some of those examples is hard to measure, particularly as the Russia report is still not publicly available. Indeed it may never be publicly available as the Government stated in their final sentence in the introduction to their response to the report “A further, private response will be provided to the Committee in due course, on aspects of the Committee’s report which are too sensitive to respond to in a published response.” So understanding what the Government’s response means is not helped by the lack of the report being available. Now of course our MPs which in Sussex currently represents 16 people, 13 of who are Conservatives are in a position to read the report and assess whether they accept their Governments response or demand more. Indeed they are in a position to make public responses to the people that live in Sussex. Inevitably several of those people are Ministers and so their response is bound to be the same as the Government, but others are not and they are therefore free-er to state their own views. So along with Peter Kyle, Caroline Lucas and Lloyd Russell-Moyle who are not Conservatives, there are eight others who are not Ministers. They are Caroline Ansell, Peter Bottomley, Nusrat Ghani, Andrew Griffith, Sally-Ann Hart, Tim Loughton, Huw Merriman and Henry Smith. So while we wait for their response this is what the Prime Minister stated:

The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) has today laid before Parliament a report on Russia, examining the Russian threat to the UK and the UK’s response. I welcome the report and thank the former Committee for the work that has gone into this; this has clearly been an extensive effort spanning almost two years. The Government is publishing its response to the ISC’s Russia Report immediately, recognising the significant public interest in the issues it raises. Copies of the response have been laid before both Houses. The Committee has also today laid before Parliament its Annual Report 2018-19. This report highlights the breadth of the Committee’s oversight role and I thank them for their important work. I would like to thank the former Committee for their work in the last Parliament, and I look forward to working with the newly appointed Committee in the future.

The fact that this report has clearly been very critical of the way the current and previous Governments have responded to the issues that lie behind the report, it is very disappointing that there is no sense of apology or admittance of problems that he and his two predecessors have been responsible for. Given that the Conservative Party have chosen to ignore these issues over the two major referendums and and the 2017 and 2019 General Elections and potentially the 2015 General Election is also very disturbing. However because these people have accepted many hundreds of thousands of pounds of money for their political party from wealthy Russian high profile people is a clear indication as to why there needs to be a clear set of changes in the way that the Conservative Party operates. There is clearly a long way for this issue to go and perhaps one of the most challenging is that as we prepare to leave the EU with now very clear questions about the referendum result as a consequence of Russia, that our current Government is proposing a no deal departure. Many of us would now like to be able to vote to either endorse or oppose that departure arrangement. The following is the text from the introduction of the report which can be found here.

The Government is grateful to the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) for their report on Russia. As the final report says, this was a major Inquiry spanning eight months and numerous evidence sessions. Both the Committee and the Government devoted considerable time and resource to it and we are grateful for the detailed report the Committee has produced. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the former Members of the Committee for their vital work over the course of the last Parliament and we look forward to working with the new Committee as they continue their independent oversight of the UK’s Intelligence Community.

The Committee notes that Russia presents a serious threat to the United Kingdom. As NATO leaders agreed at their meeting in London on 3-4 December 2019, Russia’s aggressive actions also constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security. The Government has made clear to the Kremlin that an improvement in relations is only possible if Russia desists from its attacks on the UK and its allies. Meanwhile we will be resolute in defending our country, our democracy, and our values from such Hostile State Activity.

We do this through a cross-Government Russia Strategy and structures that combine the UK’s diplomatic, intelligence, and military capabilities, its hard and soft power, to maximum effect. We act in concert with our allies, seeking to lead the West’s collective response to hybrid threats to our societies and values. This includes concerted campaigns to counter disinformation, as well as to bear down on illicit finance, combat influence operations, and fend off cyber-attacks.

We are grateful to the Committee for their commendation of the hard work of the community of Government officials and others who are engaged in this effort, including in mounting the UK’s response to the Salisbury attack in 2018, and for its recommendations on how to sustain it going forward.

The former Committee has made a number of recommendations within the text of their report as well as drawing out some cross-cutting themes. We have not addressed each and every recommendation individually in this response, but have instead addressed the key themes which we have grouped together under the headings: cross-Government focus and strategy; defending democracy; and legislation, making reference to some specific recommendations where appropriate. For those recommendations where the Committee has requested specific updates, we will respond to those directly in the timeframes they have set out. A further, private response will be provided to the Committee in due course, on aspects of the Committee’s report which are too sensitive to respond to in a published response.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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