'Parliament and National Security' in Horne, A. and Le Sueur, A. (EDS.), Parliament: Legislation and Accountability
Clive Walker and Alexander Horne, 'Parliament and National Security' in Horne, A. and Le Sueur, A. (Eds.), Parliament: Legislation and Accountability (Hart, Oxford, 2016)
Posted: 6 May 2016
Date Written: May 4, 2016
This chapter seeks to address a number of issues relating to Parliament’s responsibility for holding the Government to account on national security matters. Parliament’s accountability oversight is diffuse. In addition to debates on the floor of both Houses, a number of cCommittees are responsible for holding the Government to account on national security. These include: the Foreign Affairs Committee; the Defence Committee; the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy; the Committees on Arms Export Controls; and the Intelligence and Security Committee (not to mention the parliamentary committees that are focused on human rights and the constitution which frequently consider the human rights compatibility, constitutionality and proportionality of the Government’s policy). The chapter explores three case studies from the 2010–2015 Parliament. Following a brief consideration of the historical background (Part section II), the first case study (section Part III) will consider whether a new convention has been established that Parliament needs to be consulted when the Government wishes to deploy the armed forces. The second case study (section Part IV) analyses the work of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, as re-established under the Justice and Security Act 2013 (comparing it with the previous version which that had been set up under the Intelligence Services Act 1994). The final case study (section Part V) assesses how effectively Parliament has scrutinised counter-terrorism legislation. Each of these studies will note the shared challenges that face the parliamentarians who conduct this work. These include: access to information, and; questions of secrecy and the problem of ‘urgency’ (be it fast-track counter-terrorism legislation or the need to respond quickly to world events). By contrast, and in favour of accountability, national security remains a core responsibility of government. Consequently, there is less divestment or dilution of accountability because of transfers to agencies or the private sector than in many other activities of the late modern government.
Keywords: Parliament, national security, terrorism, accountability
JEL Classification: K10, K14, K33, K19, K30, K33, K42, N40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation