The Act is introduced by the Long Title which states:
- "An Act to make provision about the Secret Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Headquarters, including provision for the issue of warrants and authorisations enabling certain actions to be taken and for the issue of such warrants and authorisations to be kept under review; to make further provision about warrants issued on applications by the Security Service; to establish a procedure for the investigation of complaints about the Secret Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Headquarters; to make provision for the establishment of an Intelligence and Security Committee to scrutinise all three of those bodies; and for connected purposes."
The Act placed SIS and GCHQ on a statutory footing for the first time. The role of SIS was defined as: "to obtain and provide information relating to the actions or intentions of persons outside the British Islands; and to perform other tasks relating to the actions or intentions of such persons." The Act provided for a tribunal to investigate complaints and an oversight committee (the Intelligence and Security Committee) composed of nine MPs reporting to the Prime Minister.
The Act also gives the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs the power to grant immunity from British prosecution to SIS personnel when they engage in any acts while on operations abroad that would be illegal under British law, such as murder.
References[edit | edit source]
- Stephen Twigge, Edward Hampshire, Graham Macklin, British Intelligence, p87, The National Archives 2008, ISBN 978-1-905615-00-1
- "Does James Bond have a License to Kill?". Slate.com. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2006/11/does_james_bond_have_a_license_to_kill.html/. "Under Section 7 of the Intelligence Services Act, the Secretary of State can authorize persons to commit acts abroad for which they may not be held liable under British law. By implication, that includes all criminal law relating to the use of lethal force... Despite its protections, the act does not and cannot immunize agents from the law of the foreign lands in which they operate."