The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) was established by the Intelligence Services Act 1994 to examine the policy, administration and expenditure of the Security Service, Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The Committee has developed its oversight remit, with the Government's agreement, to include examination of the work of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) and the Intelligence and Security Secretariat, which includes the Assessments Staff in the Cabinet Office. The Committee also takes evidence from the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS), part of the Ministry of Defence (MOD), which assists the Committee in respect of work within the Committee's remit.
The Prime Minister, in consultation with the leaders of the two main opposition parties, appoints the ISC members. The Committee reports directly to the Prime Minister, and through him to Parliament, by the publication of the Committee's reports.
The Members are subject to Section 1(b) of the Official Secrets Act 1989 and have access to highly classified material in carrying out their duties. The Committee takes evidence from Cabinet Ministers and senior officials – all of which is used to formulate its reports.
5 March 2009: The Prime Minister has today laid the Intelligence and Security Committee's 2007-2008 Annual Report before Parliament. The Committee has issued a press release which can be found here and the Report together with the Government's response can be found here.
21 October 2008: The Prime Minister has today appointed Dr Kim Howells, MP as the new Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. The Rt. Hon. Margaret Beckett, MP stood down as Chair of the Committee on 3 October 2008 following her appointment as Minister of State for Housing and Planning.
8 July 2008: The Intelligence and Security Committee sent its Review of the Intelligence on the London Terrorist Attacks on 7 July 2005 to the Prime Minister on 8 July 2008, for publication subject to the lifting of legal restrictions currently in place.
Publication is a matter for the Prime Minister. As regards the timing of publication, the Cabinet Office have said that:
“No decision can be made on the timing of the publication of the ISC's report until separate decisions, which are not matters for the Government, are made on the reporting restrictions which have inhibited publication so far. The Government will publish the report as soon as it can consistent with this.”
Any media enquiries regarding publication should be addressed to the Cabinet Office press office.
The ISC produces an Annual Report each year and may, on occasion, produce special ‘ad hoc’ Reports. The Committee sends its Reports to the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister then lays them before Parliament.
The Committee does not comment on its work programme or reports beyond any information given here.