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Page last updated at 16:51 GMT, Sunday, 21 August 2011 17:51 UK

Intelligent work?

The parliamentary intelligence and security committee was set up by the then Prime Minister John Major in 1994 to oversee the work of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

Over the years it's come in for criticism because it operates quite differently from other committees.

Unlike a select committee, it doesn't meet in public and it's nine members are appointed by the Prime Minister rather than by other MPs.

The PM receives the committee's reports and decides how much of them to publish.

All this may change because the ISC is now recommending that its meetings should be in public and it should report directly to Parliament.

We brought together the former Labour MP Kim Howells, who chaired the Intelligence and Security Committee in the last Parliament, and an expert, Dr Andrew Defty of Lincoln University.

He began by explaining why there's long been concern about the role of the ISC.

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