02 July 2004
Whitehall's intelligence community has come under fire again, with MPs expressing serious concern that the government's focus on counter-terrorism has left Britain vulnerable to espionage.
The fears are outlined in the Commons' all-party intelligence and security committee's annual report, published on June 29.
The MPs say that while they understand the importance of reacting to the heightened threat of a terrorist attack on the UK, Whitehall must not ignore other, traditional, aspects of intelligence policy. Despite an overall rise in intelligence agency funding from £909m in 2002 to £1.1bn last year, some services have been modified to make room for additional counter-terrorism projects.
The report says: 'Because of the necessary additional effort allocated to counter-terrorism, risks are being taken in the area of counter-espionage and other important work is not being carried out as fully as ministers and the [government] agencies themselves would wish.'
The committee, chaired by Labour MP Ann Taylor, also brands the government's response to its report on the Iraq weapons dossier 'extremely unsatisfactory'.
It outlines 'considerable concerns' over the way some Whitehall bodies responded to requests for information when MPs were compiling their study.
Several documents were not sent to the committee, although the report states that 'having now read them… they would not have led us to change our conclusions'.