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Govt 'must not continue to bury its head in the sand'

The Government must reform the way MI5, MI6 and GHCQ are held to account and "must not continue to bury its head in the sand," civil rights campaigners warned.

Emma Carr, acting director of Big Brother Watch, said:

When a senior committee of Parliament says that the current oversight of our intelligence agencies is not fit for purpose, ineffective and undermines the credibility of Parliament, the Government cannot and must not continue to bury its head in the sand.

This report is a wake-up call to those blindly parroting the line that the UK has the best oversight system in the world.

The law is out of date, the oversight is weak and the reporting of what happens is patchy at best.

– Emma Carr


ISC ignoring '21st century reality' of intelligence

MPs charged with keeping the intelligence services in check are nor facing the "21st century reality of the security and intelligence services," a leading Labour MP said.

Alluding to John Le Carre's fictional Cold War spy George Smiley, Home Affairs Committee Chairman Keith Vaz MP said:

The current system of oversight is designed to scrutinise the work of George Smiley not the 21st century reality of the security and intelligence services.

The agencies are at the cutting edge of sophistication and are owed an equally refined system of democratic scrutiny.

It is an embarrassing indictment of our system that some in the media felt compelled to publish leaked information to ensure that matters were heard in Parliament.

The Intelligence and Security Committee should be given a democratic mandate in the same way as other Select Committees.

– Keith Vaz

MPs 'damaging' credibility of intelligence services

The credibility of MI5, MI6 and GHCQ has been damaged by the way their work is held to account, an influential group of MPs has said.

The Intelligence and Security Committee (above) came under fire in the report. Credit: PA

The Home Affairs Select Committee wants to see a shake up of the way security and intelligence agencies are scrutinised, starting with the way the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) is organised.

Membership of the nine-strong ISC should be elected and the chair should always be a member of the House of Commons.

In addition, it said the ISC chair should always be a member of the largest opposition party.

Vaz urges Home Office to reconsider 'cruel' deportation

Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz has written to Home Secretary Theresa May asking her to urgently reconsider the decision to deport Yashika Bageerathi.

NHS needs to monitor addict's 'doctor shopping'

GPs need to be made aware of 'Doctor shopping' Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Under the previous health service structure, primary care trusts would alert all practices in the local area if there was an individual visiting multiple practices to request specific drugs.

MPs have said that the highlighting of so-called 'doctor shopping' now needs to be "formalised" in order for it to continue with the structural changes in healthcare in UK.

A report recommended that NHS England should issue guidance to local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), so they take on the gathering of data on patients visiting multiple practices to request specific drugs.


1.5 million patients 'are addicted to prescription drugs'

There are currently 1.5 million people addicted to prescription drugs in the UK. The abuse of these types of substances is taking place in the shadows and its extent is still unquantified.

Local GPs need to report their suspicions and collate information to illuminate this problem.

– Keith Vaz MP, Committee chair

Lack of action would lead to "catastrophic consequences", Mr Vaz said.

The committee cited work by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction which estimates that 1.5 million people are addicted to these type of drugs, far higher than those who are in treatment for addiction to illegal drugs.

GPs 'should monitor patients addicted to prescription drugs'

GPs should start collecting anonymous data on patients they suspect or know to be hooked on prescription drugs, a group of MPs has found.

GPs 'should monitor on patients addicted to prescription drugs' Credit: PA

There is a lack of data on misuse and supply of prescription drugs for non-medicinal purposes and the spread and scale of the problem needs to be established, the Home Affairs Select Committee said.

Further efforts to tackle "doctor-shopping", when addicts visiting multiple practices to request specific drugs, are also needed, the MPs said.

Backlog could 'fill Wembley Stadium five times over'

The backlog of immigration cases could "fill Wembley Stadium five times over" and need to be cleared as a matter of urgency, the head of an influential select committee has said.

Labour's Keith Vaz warned the Home Office it would not be able to tackle "deeper problems" in the immigration system until the backlog was cleared.

There are still over 430,000 cases languishing in the backlogs, enough to fill Wembley Stadium almost five times over.

As we have said on numerous occasions, the backlogs must be cleared as a matter of priority.

Only then will the Home Office be able to tackle the deeper problems in the immigration system.

– Home Affairs committee chairman Keith Vaz

Report: UK Borders received 178 complaints every day

A database of allegations of illegal immigration received 48,660 complaints in just nine months - approximately 178 per day - a group of influential MPs have revealed.

The stats were published in a report into immigration and UK Borders by the Home Affairs select committee. They found:

  • Immigration Enforcement officers carried out 2,695 investigations with visits because of allegations made to them from September to May this year.
  • In that time 1,840 arrests were made.
  • 660 people were removed from the UK.
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