The Intelligence Services Act 1994 (SW9311) defines the role of MI6 as;
(a) to obtain and provide information relating to the
actions or intentions of persons outside the British
Islands; and (b) to perform other tasks relating to the
actions or intentions of such persons...[in relation to]
the interests of national security, with particular
reference to defence and foreign policies...the interests
of the economic well-being of the UK...or in support of the
prevention or detection of serious crime.
The Act brought into existence the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee which oversees the »expenditure, administration and policy« of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ (SW9501). Of its nine members, five are former Tory ministers.
David Spedding took over as chief of MI6 (SW9403) from Colin McColl in September 1994. His agency's shrinking workforce (SW9403) was put at 2,303 in 1994, with a budget of £150M.
The Russian threat no longer preoccupies SIS as it once did, and two-thirds of its activity in this area (DT960329) (TM960329) has been eliminated. In 1996 there has been some resurgence in activity, with the Russian intelligence agencies reported to have resumed their efforts to post agents in Britain. In March 1996 an alleged British spy (DT960304) was thrown out by the Russians, and this was followed in May by the expulsion (DT960520) (TM960518) of four more diplomats by each side. And in January 1996, spy Rosemary Sharpe (DT960130) was outed by Der Spiegel, which said that she had paid three German intelligence officers for information on Russian military hardware. The German agents had not passed the money on to their superiors, and were being investigated for corruption.
Performance related pay is now in force (DT960520) for both MI6 and MI5. It is intended to ensure that officers »have a clear understanding of what they are expected to achieve.«
Should they not achieve their goals to the extent of ending up unemployed, MI6 officers can now take disputes (DT960724) (TM960724) to an industrial tribunal. This follows the case of former agent Richard Tomlinson who was dismissed following a negative appraisal by his personnel manager. He claimed (ST960331) the attempts to prevent him taking his case to an industrial tribunal were designed to conceal poor management at MI6.
MI6 stole submarine tracking technology from the French Navy (ST960616) by setting up a front company to obtain information from an engineer at Brest naval base. MI6 spies against Britain's European partners under operation »Jet Stream«.
In August 1996 Norman MacSween, the 48-year-old chief of MI6's Moscow station, was embarassingly exposed (ST960804) on Russian TV when he attempted to make contact with one of his agents, Platon Obukhov, who confessed to spying for the British. MacSween's career is over, and the agent he was running will probably be shot.