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O służbach specjalnych w brytyjskim parlamencie: Dzieje parlamentarnej kontroli służb specjalnych w Wielkiej Brytanii (1909 - 1994)


  • Sebastian Michalak


The History of Parliamentary Scrutiny over the Intelligence and Security Services in Great Britain (1909‐1994)

So far in Polish historiography there was no interest in the parliamentary scrutiny over the British secret services. British researchers in the field of intelligence and security services parliament oversight have been dealing with the Cabinet and secret services dynamics in democratic political systems mainly, as well as with democratizing the position of secret services within the country with the help of parliamentary scrutiny. But no special effort was made to establish the historical picture of parliamentary scrutiny. I decided to explore that important and interesting matter. Studying the history of parliamentary scrutiny over the British secret services helps to understand the position legislature held in the British political system. In the light of such specific problem as scrutiny we can analyze executive ‐parliament dynamics. That also allows to estimate the degree to which the political parties change their performance after winning the election. My attempt was to describe the condition, character, range and methods of holding parliamentary scrutiny over the secret services during 1909‐1994. The aim of this book was to determine the dynamics behind the changes in parliamentary arguments over the secret service's scrutiny procedures taking place in the former century.

Writing about parliamentary scrutiny over the British secret services I referred to three agencies, mainly: Security Service known also as M15, Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) known as MI6 and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHO). MI5 holds counterintelligence tasks performing under Home Secretary. SIS runs intelligence missions what makes it similar to GCHO that runs signal intelligence. Both agencies fall under the Foreign Secretary. The basic resources for my book were Hansard, House of Commons and House of Lords debates. I was drawing on white papers and reports of inquiry committees included in the fifth and sixth series of Command Papers covering a period of 1956‐1 993.

The global political power changes taking place after world war II generated new threats for Great Britain. Therefore the chronology in my book is based on progression of the political events that took place after 1945 and is closely related to cold war East‐West dynamics. The book is divided into six chapters. The first chapter explains what parliamentary scrutiny is and describes the methodology of dealing with the issues related to it. Second chapter (1909‐1944) gives a brief picture of circumstances around forming M15, SIS and GCHQ on the background of British intelligence community during 1902‐1944 and describes the condition of parliamentary scrutiny over the secret services during 1909‐1944.

Ideological conflict brought spy affairs in 1950s and 1960s. That made the parliament wonder about counterintelligence's efficiency in dealing with magnitude of Russian infiltration and executives' methods of improving the state security system. Those issues stimulated the discourse on parliamentary scrutiny during 1945‐1965 what is detailed in the third chapter.

The fourth chapter (1966‐1979) deals with the influence of the institutional reforms in the British parliament during the second half of 1960s and changes in the systems of parliamentary scrutiny over the secret services in United States, Federal Republic of Germany and Austria that took place in second half of 1970s on the history of parliamentary scrutiny. The fifth chapter presents the stages in evolving of Labor Opposition's and minority parties' stand during 1980‐1989 attempts to develop a parliament scrutiny system. Political changes in 1990s in Eastern and Middle Europe were, next to parliamentary pressure to reform scrutiny system, another factor determining the changes in British governing system in favor of Open Government program promoted by John Major. In 1994 the Intelligence Services Bill was introduced to the parliament which is discussed in the last chapter. The project included forming an Intelligence and Security Committee which was to hold scrutiny over the secret services. The book is equipped with the list of abbreviations and bibliography. There is also MP and Lords index included.

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Sebastian Michalak Sebastian Michalak,, Wydział Zamiejscowy we Wrocławiu (Wydział Zamiejscowy we Wrocławiu)
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(pl) Polish
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