General duties in relation to privacy

Investigatory Powers Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:01 pm on 6th June 2016.

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“(1) Subsection (2) applies where a public authority is deciding whether—

(a) to issue, renew or cancel a warrant under Part 2, 5, 6 or 7,

(b) to modify such a warrant,

(c) to approve a decision to issue, renew or modify such a warrant,

(d) to grant, approve or cancel an authorisation under Part 3,

(e) to give a notice in pursuance of such an authorisation or under Part 4 or section 216, 217 or 220,

(f) to vary or revoke such a notice,

(g) to approve a decision to give a notice under section 216 or 217, or

(h) to apply for or otherwise seek any issue, grant, giving, modification, variation or renewal of a kind falling within paragraph (a), (b), (d), (e) or (f).

(2) The public authority must have regard to—

(a) whether what is sought to be achieved by the warrant, authorisation or notice could reasonably be achieved by other less intrusive means,

(b) the public interest in the integrity and security of telecommunication systems and postal services, and

(c) any other aspects of the public interest in the protection of privacy.

(3) The duties under subsection (2)—

(a) apply so far as they are relevant in the particular context, and

(b) are subject to the need to have regard to other considerations that are also relevant in that context.

(4) The other considerations may, in particular, include—

(a) the interests of national security or of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom,

(b) the public interest in preventing or detecting serious crime,

(c) other considerations which are relevant to—

(i) whether the conduct authorised or required by the warrant, authorisation or notice is proportionate, or

(ii) whether it is necessary to act for a purpose provided for by this Act,

(d) the requirements of the Human Rights Act 1998, and

(e) other requirements of public law.

(5) In this section “public authority” includes the relevant judicial authority (within the meaning of section 66) where the relevant judicial authority is deciding whether to approve under that section an authorisation under Part 3.” —(Mr John Hayes.)

This new clause imposes certain duties in relation to privacy.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Speaker of the House of Commons

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government new clause 6—Civil liability for certain unlawful interceptions.

New clause 4—Offence of unlawful use of investigatory powers—

“(1) A relevant person is guilty of an offence if—

(a) by way of conduct described in this Act, he knowingly or recklessly obtains the communications, communications data, secondary data, equipment data or personal information of an individual, and

(b) the person does not have lawful authority to make use of the investigatory power concerned.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a relevant person who shows that the person acted in the reasonable belief that the person had lawful authority to obtain the information referred to in subsection (1)(a).

(3) In this section “relevant person” means a person who holds an office, rank or position with a relevant public authority (within the meaning of Part 3).

(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a) on summary conviction in England and Wales—

(i) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months (or 6 months, if the offence was committed before the commencement of section 154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003), or

(ii) to a fine, or to both;

(b) on summary conviction in Scotland—

(i) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or

(ii) to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both;

(c) on summary conviction in Northern Ireland—

(i) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, or

(ii) to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both;

(d) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to a fine, or to both.

(5) The offence in this section shall have precedence over any other relevant offences in the Data Protection Act 1998, Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006, Computer Misuse Act 1990, and the common law offence of misfeasance in public office.”

On behalf of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, to provide for a unified offence for the misuse of intrusive investigatory powers at the beginning of the Bill, in Part 1, rather than having each offence scattered throughout the Bill or in other legislation.

New clause 21—General duties in relation to privacy—

“(1) Subsection (2) applies where a public authority is deciding whether—

(a) to issue, renew or cancel a warrant under Part 2, 5, 6 or 7,

(b) to modify such a warrant,

(c) to approve a decision to issue, renew or modify such a warrant,

(d) to grant, approve or cancel an authorisation under Part 3,

(e) to give a notice in pursuance of such an authorisation or under Part 4 or section 216, 217 or 220,

(f) to vary or revoke such a notice,

(g) to approve a decision to give a notice under section 216 or 217, or

(h) to apply for or otherwise seek any issue, grant, giving, modification, variation or renewal of a kind falling within paragraph (a), (b), (d), (e) or (f).

(2) The public authority must give effect to—

(a) the requirements of the Human Rights Act 1998, and

(b) other requirements of public law.

(3) The public authority must also have regard to—

(a) whether what is sought to be achieved by the warrant, authorisation or notice could reasonably be achieved by other less intrusive means,

(b) the public interest in the integrity and security of telecommunication systems and postal services, and

(c) any other aspects of the public interest in the protection of privacy.

(4) The duties under subsection (3)—

(a) apply so far as they are relevant in the particular context, and

(b) are subject to the need to have regard to other considerations that are also relevant in that context.

(5) The other considerations may, in particular, include—

(a) the interests of national security or of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom,

(b) the public interest in preventing or detecting serious crime,

(c) other considerations which are relevant to—

(i) whether the conduct authorised or required by the warrant, authorisation or notice is proportionate, or

(ii) whether it is necessary to act for a purpose provided for by this Act.

(6) In this section “public authority” includes the relevant judicial authority (within the meaning of section 66) where the relevant judicial authority is deciding whether to approve under that section an authorisation under Part 3.”

This new clause sets out general duties in relation to privacy.

Amendment 14, in clause 1, page 1, line 4, at end insert—

“( ) This Act sets out the extent to which certain investigatory powers may be used to interfere with an individual’s privacy.”

On behalf of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, to place privacy at the forefront of the legislation.

Government amendments 26 to 34.

New clause 1—Notification by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner

“(1) The Investigatory Powers Commissioner is to notify the subject or subjects of investigatory powers relating to the statutory functions identified in section 196, subsections (1), (2) and (3), including—

(a) the interception or examination of communications,

(b) the retention, accessing or examination of communications data or secondary data,

(c) equipment interference,

(d) access or examination of data retrieved from a bulk personal dataset,

(e) covert human intelligence sources,

(f) entry or interference with property.

(2) The Investigatory Powers Commissioner must only notify subjects of investigatory powers under subsection (1) upon completion of the relevant conduct or the cancellation of the authorisation or warrant.

(3) The notification under subsection (1) must be sent by writing within thirty days of the completion of the relevant conduct or cancellation of the authorisation or warrant.

(4) The Investigatory Powers Commissioner must issue the notification under subsection (1) in writing, including details of—

(a) the conduct that has taken place, and

(b) the provisions under which the conduct has taken place, and

(c) any known errors that took place within the course of the conduct.

(5) The Investigatory Powers Commissioner may postpone the notification under subsection (1) beyond the time limit under subsection (3) if the Commissioner assesses that notification may defeat the purposes of an on-going serious crime or national security operation or investigation.

(6) The Investigatory Powers Commissioner must consult with the person to whom the warrant is addressed in order to fulfil an assessment under subsection (5).”

New clause 2—Referrals by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament—

“(1) Subsection (2) applies if the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament refers a matter to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner.

(2) The Investigatory Powers Commissioner must inform the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament of the outcome of any investigation, inspection or audit arising from such a referral.”

To allow the Intelligence and Security Committee to refer matters, on behalf of Parliament, to the Commissioner and to provide a mechanism for the Committee to be informed of the outcome.

New clause 16—Investigatory Powers Commissioner: obligation to notify—

“(1) The Investigatory Powers Commissioner is to notify the subject or subjects of investigatory powers relating to the statutory functions identified in section 196, subsections (1), (2) and (3), including—

(a) the interception or examination of communications,

(b) the retention, accessing or examination of communications data or secondary data,

(a) equipment interference,

(b) access or examination of data retrieved from a bulk personal dataset.

(2) The Investigatory Powers Commissioner must only notify subjects of investigatory powers under subsection (1) upon completion of the relevant conduct or the cancellation of the authorisation or warrant.

(3) The notification under subsection (1) must be sent by writing within ninety days of the completion of the relevant conduct or cancellation of the authorisation or warrant.

(4) The Investigatory Powers Commissioner must issue the notification under subsection (1) in writing, including details of the provisions under which the conduct has taken place.

(5) The Investigatory Powers Commissioner may postpone the notification under subsection (1) beyond the time limit under subsection (3) if the Commissioner assesses that notification may defeat the purposes of the on-going serious crime or national security operation or investigation.

(6) The Investigatory Powers Commissioner must consult with the person to whom the warrant is addressed in order to fulfil an assessment under subsection (5).”

This new Clause would ensure that individuals are informed after the event that they have been a subject of investigatory powers.

Amendment 465, in clause 194, page 149, line 7, at end insert—

“( ) There shall be a body corporate known as the Investigatory Powers Commission.

( ) The Investigatory Powers Commission shall have such powers and duties as shall be specified in this Act.”

See amendment 469.

Amendment 466, page 149, line 12, at end insert—

“(1A) The Investigatory Powers Commissioner must appoint—

(a) the Chief Inspector, and

(b) such number of Inspectors as the Investigatory Powers Commissioner considers necessary for the carrying out of the functions of the Investigatory Powers Commission.

(1B) In appointing Investigators the Investigatory Powers Commissioner shall—

(a) appoint an individual only if the Investigatory Powers Commissioner thinks that the individual—

(i) has experience or knowledge relating to a relevant matter, and

(ii) is suitable for appointment,

(b) have regard to the desirability of the Investigators together having experience and knowledge relating to the relevant matters.

(1C) For the purposes of subsection (2)(a) the relevant matters are those matters in respect of which the Investigatory Powers Commission has functions including, in particular—

(a) national security;

(b) the prevention and detection of serious crime;

(c) the protection of privacy and the integrity of personal data;

(d) the security and integrity of computer systems and networks;

(e) the law, in particular, as it relates to the matters in subsections (-)(a) – (b);

(f) human rights as defined in Section 9(2) of the Equality Act 2006.”

See amendment 469.

Amendment 295, page 149, line 19, leave out paragraph (a).

A paving amendment for the proposed requirement on the Prime Minister to act on the recommendation of the relevant chief justice when appointing Judicial Commissioners.

Amendment 296, page 149, line 20, leave out paragraph (b).

A paving amendment for the proposed requirement on the Prime Minister to act on the recommendation of the relevant chief justice when appointing Judicial Commissioners.

Amendment 297, page 149, line 21, leave out paragraph (c).

A paving amendment for the proposed requirement on the Prime Minister to act on the recommendation of the relevant chief justice when appointing Judicial Commissioners.

Amendment 7, page 149, line 23, at end insert—

“(3A) The term of office of a person appointed under subsection (1)(a) as Investigatory Powers Commissioner must not begin before the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament has consented to the proposed appointee.”

This amendment would require the appointment of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner to be agreed by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.

Amendment 298, page 149, line 28, at end insert—

“(5A) When appointing any person under subsection (1), the Prime Minister must act on the recommendation of—

(a) the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, in relation to Judicial Commissioners appointed from England and Wales,

(b) the Lord President of the Court of Session, in relation to Judicial Commissioners appointed from Scotland, and

(c) the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, in relation to Judicial Commissioners appointed from Northern Ireland.”

An amendment to require the Prime Minister to act on the recommendation of the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the Lord President of the court of Session, or the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, when appointing Judicial Commissioners.

Amendment 146, page 149, line 35, at end insert—

“(7A) The Investigatory Powers Commissioner shall ensure that all judicial authorisation functions under this Act are carried out by different Commissioners from those who carry out the audit and inspection functions set out in this Part.”

This amendment requires the Investigatory Powers Commissioner to ensure the separation of the judicial authorisation function from the ex post audit and inspection function..

Amendment 467, page 149, line 35, at end insert—

“(7A) The Prime Minister may make an appointment under subsection (1) only following a recommendation by—

(a) The Judicial Appointments Commission;

(b) The Judicial Appointments Board of Scotland; or

(c) The Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission.”

See amendment 469.

Amendment 468, page 149, line 35, at end insert—

“(7A) The Chief Inspector is an Inspector and the Chief Inspector and the other Inspector are to be known, collectively, as the Inspectors.”

See amendment 469.

Amendment 469, page 150, line 2, at end insert—

“(c) to the Investigatory Powers Commission are to be read as appropriate to refer to the body corporate, the Investigatory Powers Commission, and in so far as it will refer to the conduct of powers, duties and functions, those shall be conducted by either the Judicial Commissioners or the Inspectors as determined by this Act or by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, consistent with the provisions of this Act.”

The purpose of these amendments is to replace the proposal to create an Investigatory Powers Commissioner with provisions to create a new Investigatory Powers Commission. They would provide that no appointment can be made except pursuant to a recommendation by the independent bodies in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland tasked with making judicial appointments in those jurisdictions.

Government amendment 35.

Amendment 8, in clause 196, page 152, line 9, at end insert—

“(4A) In keeping matters under review in accordance with this section, the Investigatory Powers Commissioner must, in particular, keep under review the operation of safeguards to protect privacy.”

On behalf of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, to make explicit that the Investigatory Powers Commissioner is required to scrutinise the underlying safeguards, procedures and processes relating to bulk powers, including the arrangements for the protection of, and control of access to, material obtained through their use.

Amendment 18, in clause 197, page 153, line 8, after “Commissioner”, insert

“or the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.”

On behalf of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, to allow the Prime Minister to issue directions at the request of the ISC (in addition to the Commissioner).

Amendment 189, in clause 198, page 153, line 21, leave out

“if the Commissioner considers that—”.

See amendment 195.

Amendment 472, page 153, line 21, leave out from “aware” to end of line 24.

See amendment 477.

Amendment 190, page 153, leave out line 23.

See amendment 195.

Amendment 191, page 153, leave out line 24.

See amendment 195.

Amendment 473, page 153, line 25, leave out subsections (2) to (5) and insert—

“(2) The Investigatory Powers Commissioner may decide not to inform a person of an error in exceptional circumstances.

(1) Exceptional circumstances under subsection (1) will arise if the public interest in disclosure is outweighed by a significant prejudice to—

(a) national security, or

(b) the prevention and detection of serious crime.”

See amendment 477.

Amendment 192, page 153, line 25, leave out subsection (2).

See amendment 195.

Amendment 193, page 153, line 29, leave out subsection (3).

See amendment 195.

Amendment 194, page 153, line 32, leave out subsection (4).

See amendment 195.

Amendment 474, page 153, line 44, at end insert—

“(5A) Provide the person with such details of the submissions made by the public authority on the error and on the matters concerned pursuant to subsection (5) as are necessary to inform a complaint to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.”

See amendment 477.

Amendment 195, page 154, line 6, leave out from “having” to end of line 9.

These amendments will remove excessive restrictions on the Investigatory Powers Commissioner to instruct and inform individuals who have been subject to surveillance and will ensure that they are always notified of that fact when unlawful errors occur.

Amendment 2, page 154, line 10, leave out subsection (7).

Amendment 476, page 154, line 16, leave out paragraph (b).

See amendment 477.

Amendment 477, page 154, line 23, leave out paragraph (b).

These amendments would amend the Bill to provide for the Commissioner to notify any relevant person of any error made pursuant to the activities in the Bill, in order to allow those individuals to consider whether a claim may lie to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal for redress. It makes provision for non-disclosure in circumstances where the public interest in disclosure would be outweighed by a significant risk of prejudice to national security or the prevention and detection of crime.

Amendment 479, in clause 199, page 154, line 28, leave out “Judicial Commissioner” and insert “Investigatory Powers Commission”.

See amendment 481.

Amendment 478, page 154, line 34, at end insert—

“(1A) A Judicial Commissioner may refer to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal any matter the Commissioner considers may have involved the unlawful use of investigatory powers.”

See amendment 481.

Amendment 480, page 154, line 35, leave out “Judicial Commissioner” and insert “Investigatory Powers Commission”.

See amendment 481.

Amendment 481, page 154, line 38, leave out subsections (3) and (4) and insert—

“(3) In any circumstances where the Commission has identified a relevant error pursuant to section 198, the Commission must give such documents, information or other material as may be relevant to the investigation of the error to the Tribunal.

(4) The duty in subsection (3) shall be exercised without request from the Tribunal.”

These amendments would remove the requirement to consult the Secretary of State and would make clear that in circumstances where a relevant error has been identified, material should be provided to the Tribunal by the Commission. It would make clear that any potentially unlawful use of the powers in this Act may be referred to the Tribunal by the Commissioners. These amendments would remove the requirement to consult the Secretary of State before giving assistance direct to other public authorities.

Amendment 482, in clause 203, page 159, line 2, at end insert—

“(1A) A disclosure pursuant to subsection (1) will not constitute a criminal offence for any purposes in this Act or in any other enactment.

(1B) In subsection (1), a disclosure for the purposes of any function of the Commissioner may be made at the initiative of the person making the disclosure and without need for request by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner.”

This amendment would make it clear that voluntary, unsolicited disclosures are protected, and that any whistle-blower is also protected from criminal prosecution.

Amendment 483, in clause 208, page 160, line 29, after “determination” insert

“or ruling or decision, including relating to a procedural matter.”

See amendment 486.

Amendment 484, page 160, line 29, leave out from “Tribunal” to the end of line 30.

See amendment 486.

Amendment 485, page 161, line 8, leave out subsection (6).

See amendment 486.

Amendment 486, page 162, line 38, at end insert—

“(6) After section 68(1) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, insert—

(1A) Any hearing conducted by the Tribunal must be conducted in public, except where a special proceeding is justified in the public interest.

(1B) Any determination by the Tribunal must be made public, except where a special proceeding may be justified in the public interest.

(1C) A special proceeding will be in the public interest only where there is no alternative means to protect sensitive material from disclosure.

(1D) Material will be sensitive material for the purposes of this Section if its disclosure would seriously prejudice (a) national security or (b) the prevention and detection of crime.

(1E) Publication for the purposes of this Section will be seriously prejudicial if it would lead to a significant threat to life or of a serious physical injury to a person.

(1F) The Tribunal shall appoint a person to represent the interests of a party in any special proceedings from which the party (and any legal representative of the party) is excluded.

(1G) Such a person will be known as a Special Advocate.”

These amendments make clear that all decisions, determinations and rulings can be appealed on a point of law.

Amendment 487, page 162, line 38, at end insert—

“(6) After Section 4(5)(f) of the Human Rights Act 1998 insert—

‘(g) the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.’”

This amendment makes clear that all decisions, determinations and rulings can be appealed on a point of law.

Government amendments 36 to 43 and 48.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

As you know, Mr Speaker, practice makes perfect, and we have two days to perfect all we do and say.

We open the debate on the Bill with a group of provisions that address a matter which lies at its very heart. Throughout the lengthy consideration the Bill has enjoyed in its draft form and its final form, the issue of privacy, and the balance between security and private interest, has been frequently considered and debated. The balance that lies at the heart of our considerations and the proposed legislation is critical to the acceptance we need to engender for a Bill that is in the national interest.

The word “balance” was used by Christian Matheson during the Committee’s scrutiny of the Bill. He talked about the balance between national interest and personal interest— in my terms, the defence of personal privacy and the underpinning of the common good. For me, communal wellbeing and individual fulfilment are inseparable, and the national interest can only be defined as the people’s interest. It is right that we should consider how that balance is reflected in the words before us. The issues of privacy and oversight are central to our considerations, and the Government are determined to ensure that the Bill reflects the concentration on those two matters.

We are clear that, in considering and passing the Bill, we must do more—more in respect of checks and balances, more in respect of safeguards and more in respect of oversight, and that is indeed what we have tried to do in the provisions we are considering. It is important to understand that privacy is at the very core of the Bill—it runs through its very fabric. The protection of private interests and the protection of the public are at the heart of all we seek to do.

In Committee, Keir Starmer tabled a new clause to strike a balance on this issue in sympathy with my view that privacy is woven throughout the Bill’s provisions. I have concluded that he was right to emphasise the need to make that palpably clear on the face of the legislation; to seek to reinforce the determination that I have described to protect private interest. It seemed to me that he was also right to suggest that that should be an overarching aspect of the Bill—in other words, that we should, explicitly, at the outset of this legislation, make it clear that privacy matters in the way that I have described. He therefore suggested—indeed, he has tabled an amendment today, too—that we add to the Bill just such an overarching emphasis on the defence of private interests.

By underpinning the powers and the sensitive capabilities available to our law enforcement and security services, the Bill provides—as successive Governments have, by the way—an appropriate degree of oversight of those powers. Furthermore, through the change to authorisation, we have, for the first time, and in highly significant—one might even say groundbreaking—terms, struck an important balance between the role of the Executive and the role of the judiciary. That answers the call of those who, on the one hand, made the case in our earlier considerations that it is politicians who should decide these things because they are accountable to the people and those who, on the other hand, felt that that alone was not sufficient and that it was also important for lawyers to play their part in ensuring that decisions made in respect of warranting were reasonable, necessary and proportionate. The core principle—the necessity of proportionality—therefore applies to all such powers. It is underpinned by the changes that we seek to make in the Bill.

In essence, the provisions reflect the collective consideration of the three independent reviews I mentioned briefly in our short consideration of the programme motion. The Intelligence and Security Committee’s report on the draft Bill, which was published last year, called for the inclusion of an overarching clause dealing with privacy protections, and that call was echoed by the Opposition and the Scottish National party during the Committee stage.

The Government have been clear throughout the passage of the Bill that they would listen to recommendations that would improve this important proposed legislation, and that is just what we have done. We have tabled a number of amendments that demonstrate exactly that willingness to listen and that desire to strike the right balance.

Government amendment 34 relates to clause 10, an important safeguard in the Bill that prevents numerous powers in other legislation from being used to acquire communications data. There are a small number of exceptions to that restriction, and the purpose of the amendment is to ensure that they are clearly limited. The amendment therefore makes it absolutely clear that the use of regulatory powers to acquire communications data is limited to those that are exercisable in connection with telecommunications or postal regulation.

Government amendment 35 extends the oversight provided by the investigatory powers commissioner to all efforts made by prison governors to prevent the use of illegal mobile phones in custodial institutions. That is something that the interception of communications commissioner has previously called for, so I am pleased to be able to amend the Bill to take account of his advice. The amendment will also ensure that the investigatory powers commissioner has oversight of any interference with electronic communications.

That issue was raised in Committee by Joanna Cherry and I said that we would give it further consideration. We have done so and come to the conclusion that her argument is right. Although this tort would apply only to very limited circumstances—indeed, we believe that it has never been used—I accept that in such cases a person should have the power to seek appropriate redress through the civil courts.

Probably the most important amendment tabled by the Government is new clause 5—the privacy clause to which I referred at the outset. It puts privacy at the heart of the Bill in precisely the overarching way that those who scrutinised it prior to and during Committee recommended. It responds, therefore, both to the recommendations of the Intelligence and Security Committee and to the extensive debates held since then. As we have indicated, the protection of privacy is woven throughout the Bill, but we recognise the merit in setting it out at the very start.

I do not want to indulge in hyperbole, but consideration of the Bill has been characterised by an unusual degree of co-operation to get it right across the House. All legislation benefits from that kind of considered scrutiny and co-operation. Legislation that is in the national interest, as this Bill certainly is, is far better for that kind of approach, and that is exactly the approach that the Government have adopted.

Photo of Andrew Murrison Andrew Murrison Conservative, South West Wiltshire

My right hon. Friend is being ever so slightly modest in relation to new clause 5, which is aimed primarily at protecting personal privacy. Clearly he has been listening, since one of the concerns expressed by industry is that interference and hacking may cause a failure of business confidence in IT. Subsection (2)(b) will go some way to protect the interests of such companies and businesses, since it states explicitly that the public authority must have regard to the public interest in such matters, including the viability of those undertakings.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

It is true that such concerns have been expressed. Indeed, as we debate the Bill in further detail, particularly with regard to internet communication records, we will see that the capability of organisations to meet the Bill’s requirements must be met in a way that is not excessively expensive or impossible to implement, and that does not have the sort of unintended consequences described by my hon. Friend. It is partly the response to those overtures that has stimulated the changes under discussion. So it was, as he said, partly about what the Opposition said in Committee, partly about what the three reports said in respect of privacy and the consequences he described, and partly about the extensive discussions we have had with the sector on how these things could best be implemented.

My hon. Friend is right that the effective implementation of these provisions is critical to their success. Had we paid less attention to that, he would have been the first to criticise us. He has been a diligent Member of this House for a very long time and he was a member of the Joint Committee that I mentioned, which looked at this Bill in some detail. If I understated the virtues of the new clause, as he suggested, perhaps that is a reflection of my style. As I said earlier, I wish to avoid hyperbole. I am grateful to him for drawing attention to the additional virtues of the new clause.

The new clause was inspired by the ISC, and it is based on the amendment that Keir Starmer tabled in Committee. I hope that on that basis, the whole House will be able to support it. It makes it clear that warrants or other authorisations should not be granted where information could reasonably be obtained by less intrusive means. It requires that persons, including Secretaries of State and judicial commissioners, who exercise functions under the Bill have regard to the public interest in respect of privacy, as my hon. Friend Dr Murrison has described. It makes it clear that criminal offences that apply to misuse of powers under the Bill are sufficient to put beyond doubt the fact that should anyone misuse the powers, severe penalties would apply. There can be no truck with that kind of deliberate wrongdoing.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield 5:15 pm, 6th June 2016

I realise that the Bill is complex, but could I ask my right hon. Friend—not during today’s debate, but before our consideration of the matter is concluded—to write to me setting out each of the penalties for each of the misconducts identified in the Bill? The point that I will make to him in due course is that it remains extremely complex to follow, and, in some cases, the penalties appear to be little more than a rap over the knuckles under the Data Protection Act.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

My right hon. and learned Friend has made the point about incomprehensibility previously. Indeed, when we debated the draft version of the Bill, one of the telling points he made was that new legislation was needed in part because it should be more comprehensible, easier to navigate and thus more understandable to more people. He is right that the fact that existing provisions are to be found in a number of places makes it hard to determine exactly what powers there are and how the abuse of those powers will be dealt with. I happily concede the point that he has made, because it is important that all Members of this House, particularly he and the Committee that he chairs, are fully aware of the kinds of penalties that might apply. I have described them as “severe”, and I have made the point that wrongdoing cannot be tolerated. Therefore, the least I can do is agree with him that it would be helpful to set out those penalties as he has described. We will do so before the Bill completes its passage through Parliament, because it is only right for us to do so.

The purpose of the amendments and new clauses that we have tabled is to reflect the consideration of the Committee chaired by my right hon. and learned Friend, and to reflect the character and content of the debate that took place when the Bill enjoyed scrutiny in Committee. As we considered privacy to an increasing degree, it became clear that as well as the implicit emphasis on private interest, which runs through the Bill, there was a compelling case for an explicit commitment to privacy in the form of a new clause. To that end, it is right to say that both the minor parties on the Committee—in this case, the Scottish National party—

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

Pete Wishart shakes his head, but given that the SNP had only two Members on the Committee, I cannot describe it as the major contributor. Before he started shaking his head, I was about to say that the SNP made an incredibly helpful contribution, because it tested the Government, held us to account and made a number of useful and thought-through proposals. The Opposition—by the way, I say to the hon. Gentleman that they are Her Majesty’s Opposition—equally added immense value to our consideration by making the proposal for this new clause, among others. In my judgment, it was absolutely clear that the Opposition were determined to improve the legislation, rather than to weaken or dilute it. In that spirit, I am happy to propose the Government new clauses and amendments in this group.

To allow as many colleagues as possible to contribute to this important debate, I will now finish, except to say this: when Bills come before the House and are considered on Second Reading and debated in Committee and on Report, different circumstances apply and different shadow Ministers and Ministers approach the matter in their own style, but I take the view that although circumstances are beyond human control, our conduct, to quote Benjamin Disraeli, “is in our power”, and our conduct in consideration of this Bill, which is in our power, should continue to be as measured, reasonable and moderate as it can be.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I thank all Members who have so far been involved in the scrutiny of the Bill, both in its early stages and in the Public Bill Committee. I particularly pay tribute to all members of the Committee from both sides of the House. That of course includes the SNP Members, who worked hard and constructively with us on the Bill. I pay tribute to Joanna Cherry, who leads for the SNP on this matter.

This group of amendments deals with the general provisions and the overarching privacy clause, so it is important for me to set out Labour’s position before I move on to new clause 5. Safety and security matter. The current threat level for terrorism is severe, which, as we all know, means that an attack is highly likely. We all remember and are deeply conscious of the attacks in Paris and Brussels in the not too distant past, as well as other attacks. However, the Bill deals with not just terrorism, but other serious crimes, such as the threats from people traffickers, including those who traffic children, as well as those who indulge in sexual abuse and those who commit stalking and harassment. The starting position must therefore be that the security and intelligence services, GCHQ, the National Crime Agency and the police should have the powers to deal with these threats.

However, human rights matter, too. That includes the right to privacy, the right to be left alone, the right to have private data protected with security and integrity, and the right to redress when things go wrong, which are important rights. In relation to the issues covered by the Bill, I have seen things from at least two important perspectives. I was a defence human rights advocate for 20 years, taking many cases against some of the law enforcement agencies, and I then had the privilege to be the Director of Public Prosecutions for five years, working with the security and intelligence services and the other law enforcement agencies, so I have seen the threats and how they are dealt with, but also the importance of human rights considerations.

Safety and security and human rights are not mutually exclusive: they are not either/ors and we can have both. That is why Labour has supported the principle of the Bill, but also why we are focused intensely on the necessity of the safeguards for the powers in the Bill. We have supported the principle of the new legislation not only because investigatory powers need updating in a fast-changing world, but, equally importantly, because, after Snowden, it is important that the powers exercised are avowed, that they are placed in statute and that everybody understands the safeguards around them.

In that respect there are two very important reasons why we need new legislation. But some of the proposed powers are very wide—the bulk powers are very wide indeed. That is why Labour’s first and consistent demand of the Government has been for an independent review of the operational case for the bulk powers. The Government published a short operational case alongside the Bill, but we judged that inadequate and have been pressing for a full independent review since.

I am pleased to say that in a letter of 23 May the Home Secretary accepted the case for an independent review of the operational case for the powers. That is a significant and welcome step, and is the right step. I want to strike the right tone here. Labour made very significant demands when the Bill was in Committee. We sought to do so constructively, and there have been significant movement and concessions from the Government; again, that has been constructive. Important moves in the right direction, which will improve the Bill, have been achieved through that dialogue.

Having gone that far it is important now to focus on the task and terms of the review—having the review of bulk powers is one thing, but having the right terms is equally important.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North

I appreciate all that my Front-Bench team has done and is trying to do to minimise the harm, as I see it, to privacy and civil liberties. But my hon. and learned Friend said that Labour accepts the principle, so may I say that some of us—myself, certainly, as I stated on Second Reading—do not accept the principle of the measures, consider the bulk powers unnecessary and will vote against them at every opportunity?

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

That intervention gives me the chance to say that by and large—there are some exceptions—the bulk powers are available and being exercised at the moment, under the existing arrangements. The Bill puts them on a statutory footing with proper safeguards. Not to do so would leave the situation as it is now; that is unsatisfactory because the powers are not clear and safeguards are not in place. That is an important reason why, in principle, we support the legislation. From my own perspective, having worked with the security and intelligence services on real cases, in real time, I also appreciate why some of the powers are needed and how they are used. We must never forget that important consideration.

We know that David Anderson QC will conduct the review. We have great faith in him, as I think do most Members of this House. It is important that the task he is performing is clear. We have argued that he should look not at the utility of the bulk powers but at their necessity, that he should be able to choose a suitably qualified security cleared panel himself to help him, that he must have access to all the material necessary to carry out the review effectively, including, of course, the material made available to the Intelligence and Security Committee, and that he must have time to carry out his review; we envisage that he will report in time for the consideration in Committee in the House of Lords of parts 6 and 7 of the Bill, which should be in about three months.

I am pleased to say that as those terms of reference are of considerable importance to Labour I have had the opportunity to discuss them with the Minister, and can tell the House that today we exchanged letters setting out that important framework for the review, namely that it should be a review of the necessity of the powers, that there should be properly cleared panel members chosen by David Anderson, that he should have access to all material and that there should be a report within three months. All those are very important for the conduct of the review.

Photo of David Davis David Davis Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden

The whole House is glad to hear that there has been constructive engagement on this matter, as it is incredibly important to get it right. Will the hon. and learned Gentleman ensure that those letters are put in the Library today so that the rest of the House is aware of what is going on, as this is fundamental to the Bill?

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I take that point, although obviously one of the letters is not mine—

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

I am more than happy to make my letter to the hon. and learned Gentleman available to the House immediately, and I am sure he will do the same. One important point—I want to prevent the hon. and learned Gentleman from having to deal with this himself—is that the review must be conducted during the period in which the Bill is considered, because a review after the legislation has been passed would not be sufficient. I know that the hon. and learned Gentleman has asked for that, and other hon. Members will also take an interest in it, so I happily make that further commitment on the Floor of the House.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office) 5:30 pm, 6th June 2016

I was about to say that I will happily publish my letter but that I did not have custody of that of the Minister. I will make my letter available so that all Members can see the exchange and what I asked for in my letter, and the response I received. If we do that straightaway we will have it for the rest of the debate, and certainly tomorrow when we return to bulk powers.

Turning briefly to our other demands, we have consistently asked the Government for an overarching privacy clause, and I will return to that in a moment. As the Minister said, however, new clause 5 is an overarching privacy clause. We have tabled new clause 21, and in a moment I will discuss the differences between the two. We also stated that the Bill must include a provision to make it clear that legitimate trade union activities are not a sufficient reason for powers under the Bill to be exercised—that has been a long-standing concern of the Labour party and the SNP. We have tabled an amendment on that issue and held constructive discussions, and it was the third issue on which we have been constructively engaged. The fourth issue is that there should be a higher threshold for access to an internet connection.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

As someone who served on the Bill Committee with the hon. and learned Gentleman, I welcome the approach taken by the Labour Front Bench. May I remind him that the concern to ensure the legal entity and rights of trade unions and trade unionists was shared across the Committee and not just by Labour and the SNP? It was echoed by the Minister when he responded to the debate, and by many members of the Committee.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I actually said that that issue was being pressed for by Labour and the SNP—I think that is accurate—but of course I accept that in Committee, and outside, there has been constructive engagement by the Government. The Minister was quick to indicate a willingness to consider this issue, and discussions have been ongoing. It is important to have clarity so that legitimate trade union activities are protected. Our new clause is now broader than the one we considered in Committee because it goes to national security as well as economic wellbeing. It therefore covers trade union activities in this country, and not just acts outside the British Isles, as would be the case if it was just about economic wellbeing. Such constructive engagement has pushed the Bill forward.

As I said a moment ago, we have made significant demands—I do not hide that—and the Government have moved significantly in response to those demands. This is not a list of victories, scalps, concessions or U-turns; our demands were significant and we stuck by them, and in fairness the Government have responded in the right spirit—that is for those demands that we know about, although we will come to others during the debate.

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Conservative, Rushcliffe

I am listening with interest because the question of an overriding privacy clause has concerned a lot of people. I was not involved in the Committee, and I am not a member of any Select Committees. I am waiting to hear whether the hon. and learned Gentleman is satisfied by new clause 5, which he appears to be. The drafting of legislation is always somewhat obscure nowadays, but does he think that the new clause is satisfactory? It says that the public authority should have regard to

“any other aspects of the public interest in the protection of privacy”.

Would he have preferred some reference to the right of a citizen of the United Kingdom to privacy? Does he think that there is a significant difference, or am I simply making a minor drafting point?

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

If the House is content, I will deal with that in detail later. I have tabled an alternative in new clause 21 precisely to tighten up the reference to human rights and public law. It might be easier if I deal with that point in a few minutes when I get to that provision.

Labour has asked for a revised test for judicial commissioners. Currently in the Bill, the test is reviewed by reference to judicial review principles. The concern is that the judicial review exercise is a flexible test that, at one end, has close scrutiny, when judges look at the substance as well as the process of the decision. At the other end, there is a light-touch review, when the judges look more at process. We have argued that the review should be towards the upper end of strict scrutiny. I am pleased that the Government this morning tabled a manuscript amendment setting out a test for the judicial commissioners that makes it clear that the review will be an upper-end, stricter one—the close scrutiny that we have argued for. That refers back to the privacy clause, and I will try to make good that link when I get to it.

The manuscript amendment is a constructive move by the Government to meet my concern that review must be real and meaningful, not a long-arm, Wednesbury-unreasonableness review. The manuscript amendment is a significant change.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

The hon. and learned Gentleman draws attention to the manuscript amendment the Government tabled this morning. We did so, as he describes, precisely to deal with the point raised in Committee and by others that the judicial review process might be interpreted in different ways by different commissioners. The amendment is a tighter definition of their role, strengthens the double lock and is very much in response to the Opposition critique and that of Government Members that the new process needs to be as well defined as possible.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I am grateful to the Minister—that was what the Opposition pressed for.

There have been differences of approach to the test for judicial commissioners. On the one hand, colleagues on both sides of the House have made a powerful argument that the judicial commissioners should retake the decision. On the other hand, others have argued that the decision should be reviewed. The amendment strikes a third route, which is to apply a review test but to confine it to the stricter end of the judicial review principles.

As hon. Members know, I have been a lawyer for many years and have dealt with many public law cases, as other hon. Members have. The difference between strict scrutiny and long-arm judicial review is very real —it is a material difference. That is why the manuscript amendment is highly significant.

Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Justice and Home Affairs)

It has been a pleasure to work with the hon. and learned Gentleman on the Bill. Like me, as a lawyer, he will have advised clients frequently on judicial review. He will no doubt agree that judicial review looks to the reasons given for a decision. There is no duty on the Secretary of State to give reasons for her decision on whether or not to grant a warrant. How can there be judicial review when no reasons are given?

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

The hon. and learned Lady made that very important point in the Bill Committee. Normally when decisions are subject to judicial review, there are reasons for the decision. What is envisaged is that the decision itself, plus such material as has been looked at by the Secretary of State, will be put before the judicial commissioner. There will not be reasons, which makes the task more difficult, but what is important about the test set out in the manuscript amendment is that the judicial commissioner must ensure that the duties under the privacy clause are complied with, which means that he or she will have to look at that underlying material. It might well be a good point to say, “If there are reasons, it would be an easier task,” but I do not believe the task cannot be performed without reasons. In due course, the judicial commissioners may say, “We need further help on particular issues.”

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

The hon. and learned Gentleman made the point in passing, but it is salient: in reviewing what has happened, the commissioner will receive the same information as the Secretary of State. The review will not, as was feared at one point, merely be a review of process, in which the reviewer would say, “Yes, the Secretary of State has taken the right steps,” rather than looking at the arguments that the Secretary of State had considered. Those are the two points I make on what he and Joanna Cherry said.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I am happy to give way again straight away.

Photo of David Davis David Davis Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden

There were two reasons for concern. First, the House should seek certainty in the law, rather than any notion that the law would alter depending on the judge. The Minister is one of those who wants certainty in the law and less law-making by judges, so he should accept that point. Secondly, the Home Secretary reviews approximately 2,500 warrants a year—10 a day. The ability to do so is dependent to a very large extent on the data presented and the time available. The reason we wanted a reasons-based judgment was the feeling that an hour on any given warrant was simply not enough time. At this point, I do not know whether this provision will meet that requirement, but that is the test in my mind.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I am grateful for that intervention. The certainty point is really important. It is a point that Lord Judge made when he gave evidence to the Public Bill Committee. When I asked him about the reference to judicial review principles, he was concerned that that was not clear enough for the judges to know which particular test they were to apply. Now, with the new text in the manuscript amendment, it is crystal clear to the judges that they review the decision according to judicial review principles, but they must

“consider the matters referred in subsection (1)”— necessity and proportionality—

“with a sufficient degree of care as to ensure that the Judicial Commissioner complies with the duties imposed by the section”.

That is the privacy clause. The test for the judges is now crystal clear: look at necessity and proportionality, and review the Home Secretary’s decision with a sufficient degree of care to make sure that the judicial commissioner complies with the duties imposed by the general provision in relation to privacy. That deals with the certainty point.

As far as the reasons are concerned, I cannot improve much on my previous answer. What I think is envisaged is that there will be a number of judicial commissioners whose task will be to undertake this review, and to take such time as they need to look at the material and apply this test. They will not necessarily have the constraints that the Home Secretary and the Foreign Secretary have, but obviously a lot of this will happen in real time, so there will be the constraint of time in that sense. As I said, they will not be doing that alongside the other sorts of duties that a Secretary of State has to carry out during the course of a day.

I share the concerns that have been expressed on this matter, but I am clear in my mind that close scrutiny on judicial review principles is markedly different from Wednesbury unreasonableness and makes a real difference in real cases, so long as there is access to all the material, and clarity that the privacy provisions must be complied with. That effectively means that there are factors that it is mandatory for the judicial commissioner to take into account. That makes a material difference. That is why we will support the amendment.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

The hon. and learned Gentleman and I debated this point closely in Committee, and I thank him for the way in which he has approached the matter. With regard to clarity, it is not now beyond any doubt that the test will depend not on the personality of commissioners, but the facts before them? They have a very clear basis on which to make their judgment, looking at the particular degree and seriousness of the case, and balancing the right to privacy with all the qualifications that he, I and others know exist in article 8.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I am grateful for that intervention. To illustrate why we are satisfied, under the general privacy clause—I have a tighter version of new clause 21, but for this purpose that does not matter—one of the general duties is to have regard to

“whether what is sought to be achieved by the warrant, authorisation or notice could reasonably be achieved by other less intrusive means”.

Under this test, a judicial commissioner will have access to the material, will obviously know the Secretary of State’s decision, and will have to ask himself or herself that question. That is a long way from simply asking whether a decision was so unreasonable that no reasonable Secretary of State could have taken it, and that is why the new clause makes it clear that it is close-scrutiny review, rather than long-arm review, that is being dealt with.

I will deal with two other issues on which Labour has made demands. The first is better protection for sensitive professions, which will come up under a different group of amendments. Amendments on that subject have been tabled by Members on both sides of the House, and by the Government, who have moved in relation to journalists and the protection of their sources, but not in relation to legal privilege. However, I will leave that until we get to those amendments. Secondly, Labour demanded a higher threshold for retaining health records and tabled an amendment in Committee that is now largely reflected in the Government’s new clause 14. Again, there was constructive dialogue on that important issue; a number of Members were very concerned about health and mental health records being made available via the bulk powers.

I will deal briefly with the privacy clause, passing over the bits I have already discussed. There are at least two versions of the clause before the House. The first is the Government’s new clause 5, and the second is Labour’s new clause 21. The essential difference between the two is that whereas the Government’s new clause simply states that the public authority, in carrying out its duties, “must have regard to” other matters that apply in the context, including

“the requirements of the Human Rights Act…and…other requirements of public law”,

our new clause 21 makes it clear that the Human Rights Act 1998 and the requirements of public law are of general application in all decisions. Our clause requires the public authority—the judicial commissioners—to

“give effect to…the requirements of the Human Rights Act 1998, and…other requirements of public law”.

It might be stating the obvious, but the Bill contains a statement from the Home Secretary saying that it complies with section 19 of the Human Rights Act. It therefore must be right that the duty is to “give effect to” the Act and public law, not simply to “have regard to” it. That is the only material difference between the two new clauses. I ask Members to support new clause 21, rather than new clause 5, because new clause 21 makes it clear that the Act and those powers and duties are important and apply.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 5:45 pm, 6th June 2016

I note the hon. and learned Gentleman’s comments about the difference between the two new clauses, and the Government are not blind to his argument about ensuring that the connection to human rights is secure. The Bill will clearly continue to enjoy scrutiny over the coming weeks and months, and he needs to know that, as he described earlier, we are always happy to listen and learn. I hope that tonight we can establish that an overarching privacy clause is essential, and can continue to have a discussion about the fine details.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I am grateful for that indication.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins Conservative, Louth and Horncastle

Section 6 of the Human Rights Act requires public authorities to have regard to the Act in any event, so I wonder what advantage the hon. and learned Gentleman thinks referring to the Act in the Bill will have.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I am grateful for that intervention, because it drives us back to the point of the privacy clause, which we debated in Committee and which has been debated elsewhere. It is important for three reasons. First, this is a statement of principle about the important interests and duties running through the Act, and it is important to have that statement in the Act. It avoids inconsistency and reminds decision makers of the importance of taking into account privacy, the integrity of data, human rights and so on in all cases, so this is a matter of principle.

The second reason why our new clause is important is because of practical considerations. I worked with the Police Service of Northern Ireland for five years in relation to its compliance with the Human Rights Act. Having structures and decision making written into everything it did helped it to reach better decisions, and I am sure it is the same for other polices forces and for public authorities. Never underestimate the practical application that such a clause has in real time for people in public authorities trying to do their job. The third reason—I will come back to this in a minute—is that our new clause gives real teeth to the test that the judicial commissioners apply, because there would be a link between the privacy clause and the test.

Photo of David Davis David Davis Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden

I thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for his patience in giving way so many times. Frankly, I favour his version and the reason is this. It rather bounces off something he said earlier, when he was talking about the protection of trade unionists. Of course, he is right: historically, there have been cases, 20 years ago or so, of what one might call foolish interference in trade union actions by the agencies. Today, one of the problems is interference in what might be thought of as legitimate demonstrations, by environmental groups and so on, that have become public scandals. When he was talking about trade unionists, I was trying to think how we generalise that. It seems to me that his new clause is the right way to protect those engaged in legitimate democratic activity from improper intervention.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I am grateful for that intervention. It is the historic trade union cases that have caused so much concern, but our new clause is intended also as a future-proofing exercise to ensure that, whatever human right is at issue and whichever individual or organisation is involved, there is a provision that requires decision makers to take into account the convention rights involved.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield

The hon. and learned Gentleman will have seen that the Intelligence and Security Committee has tabled a short amendment that says:

“This Act sets out the extent to which certain investigatory powers may be used to interfere with an individual’s privacy.”

We felt that that, linked to either his or the Government’s amendment, would send out a clear general statement about the state’s requirement to protect privacy. I wonder whether he has a view on that, because it seems to me that our amendment would add something without in any way undermining the ability thereafter in the Bill to undertake those necessary interferences that might be required.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I am grateful for that intervention, because what amendment 14 makes clear—the point is sometimes missed—is that these, or indeed any, investigatory powers affect an individual’s privacy. We have to be absolutely clear: the right to privacy is fundamental, but it is not absolute. The Bill gives the state a power to interfere with privacy—that is what it is about. The question then becomes: is there a case for the interference in the first place, and if there is, is that interference necessary and proportionate? Obviously it is for the Minister to respond to our amendment, but in a sense it is all of our duties to remind ourselves that this is all about an interference with privacy, and that is why the safeguards are so important.

To finish the short point I was developing, the third reason the overarching privacy clause is important is because it is now linked to the test for judicial review of the Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary’s decision, so it has real application every day when one of the warrants is applied for.

Finally, let me say a few words about the appointment of judicial commissioners, an issue that has cropped up a number of times. Under clause 194, it is for the Prime Minister to appoint the Investigatory Powers Commissioner and

“such number of other Judicial Commissioners as the Prime Minister considers necessary for the carrying out of the functions of the Judicial Commissioners.”

Before doing that, he must consult the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the Lord President of the Court of Session, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, the Scottish Ministers and the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland. Our amendment 298 would ensure that the Prime Minister acted on the recommendation of

“the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, in relation to Judicial Commissioners appointed from England and Wales,” and likewise the recommendation of the Lord President of the Court of Session and the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland in relation to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The reason is that it is envisaged that judicial commissioners will be appointed from among those who are already very experienced judges—High Court and above—either serving or retired. They will obviously have gained the qualifications to be judges and will be appropriately skilled and qualified to take these decisions, so in truth the exercise of appointing a judicial commissioner will be an exercise in deploying, from the pool of available judges, those who will sit as judicial commissioners.

That is an important consideration. Our amendment is tabled on the basis that it is not appropriate for the Prime Minister to decide that sort of deployment—he does not have the skills and experience to do it—nor, in a sense, should it be a political deployment. This is something routinely done by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. Our amendment would ensure that the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the Lord President in Scotland and the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland make a recommendation that binds the Prime Minister. The appointment is, of course, the Prime Minister’s, but that is the right way to carry out the appointment to this important judicial role, rather than the version in the Bill.

Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley

I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend for giving way again. If the recommendation should be a judicial one and if, as I think I understood him to say, the Prime Minister would not have the ability to overturn it, I fail to understand what the point would be of involving the Prime Minister at all.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

The answer to that is twofold, although I should say that if the decision was on the recommendation of the Lord Chief Justice and so on, it would not be open to the Prime Minister not to follow that recommendation. We need a slight reality check. At the moment under clause 194, if the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales—or, I am sure, the equivalent in Scotland—was consulted and made his or her views clear, it would be highly unlikely that any Prime Minister would act in a way that was contrary to the advice they were receiving from the senior judge in those jurisdictions, but our amendment would bind the Prime Minister. The question is: what is the point of involving the Prime Minister? The answer to that—to some extent this is to the Minister—is that there is the question of accountability for making the appointment.

There is also the point, as the Lord Chief Justice has pointed out, that he—or she, as the case may be—is not in the business of making judicial appointments as such, and will therefore be reluctant to have that power. The Minister might want to confirm that, because he has been having those discussions, not me. I think the Lord Chief Justice and others are reasonably happy to help with the deployment exercise, but not with the business of appointing judges.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

I have no doubt that the Solicitor General will deal with this later, but the point is that the Prime Minister is ultimately responsible for the protection of national security. As Keir Starmer said, when Lord Judge gave evidence to the Joint Committee, he made exactly the point that the hon. and learned Gentleman has made. Just to affirm the other argument that he advanced, the Prime Minister will of course seek advice on these matters in the way that the hon. and learned Gentleman has described, and I share his view that it is highly unlikely that the Prime Minister would then take a perverse decision.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I am grateful for that indication.

I have taken longer than I had anticipated. I think I have taken every intervention, because there were important points being made—that is in mitigation rather than an excuse, I suppose—but the House will be pleased to know that I have finished, at least on these amendments.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield

It is a pleasure to take part in this debate. As will be noted, the Intelligence and Security Committee has tabled a number of amendments to this part of the Bill for the House’s consideration. I want briefly to run through them and explain the Committee’s collective position.

I want to start, however, by commenting on the debate we have just been having about privacy. It seems to me that it is absolutely central to the duty on this House that we should ensure that the principle of the right to privacy against the state is maintained except if there is a good and sufficient reason why that should not happen. In that context, it is extremely important that the Bill should be clear about the right to privacy. I very much welcome new clause 5; indeed, the difference between that and the new clause tabled by Keir Starmer is, in reality, very slender indeed, as I see he acknowledges.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield

That said, words sometimes matter, and the clearer the statement, the better. I hope that my right hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench will take that into account.

We ourselves had originally suggested, before this Bill was introduced, that privacy protection should form the backbone, around which the exceptional powers of intrusion should then be built. We rather regretted the fact that that was not present when the Bill was first introduced, but we have now made a great deal of progress. Yet we still think it could do with improvement, and that was the context in which we tabled amendment 14. As I said a few moments ago in my intervention, it simply

“sets out the extent to which certain investigatory powers may be used to interfere with…privacy.”

If I may say so, it is entirely complementary and compatible with both the Government new clause and the amendment proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras. I hope that the Government will consider whether building such a statement on the face of the Bill, along with the other changes, might be of value in providing public reassurance about what the House intends and particularly the powers we intend to give to the Government and the agencies as a result.

Let me turn to new clause 4. I tabled it as a probing amendment, but I very much hope that the Government will take it carefully into consideration. I intervened on the Minister because I wanted to highlight the extent to which penalties for misuse of the powers that we are providing under this legislation remain entirely scattered within the legislation itself or even in some cases have to be found elsewhere. Here are powers that we are providing for, which are capable of revealing the most sensitive and detailed information about a person’s private life, so if misuse were to occur, it must be viewed as a very serious matter.

In my role as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, I have great confidence in the ethical standards of the agencies, but that is not to say that we can disregard this issue. Neither is it entirely adequate to say that in many cases, particularly if of a rather venal character, it should be a matter simply of dismissal, even though that would of course be a substantial sanction for the individual concerned. I think Parliament is entitled to expect that the powers will not be misused and that there is adequate punishment if they are.

In those circumstances, it is worth bearing in mind that although some of the misuses might fall under the Computer Misuse Act 1990, the offences are not comprehensive, not clear and in some cases appear to be rather inadequate—punishable only under the Data Protection Act 1998 or under the current common law offence of misconduct in public office. As many Members who are lawyers will know, it is very hard to prosecute for that offence and in any event it is inadequate to meet much of mischief to which it is aimed.

I would be grateful—I repeat my request to the Minister—if he could provide as quickly as possible through his officials, a run-down of all the offences that could be committed under the misuse provisions of the Bill, so that the House can have a clear understanding of what is covered by what offence, which offences appear in the Bill and which are covered only by misconduct in public office or the Data Protection Act 1998.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 6:00 pm, 6th June 2016

My right hon. and learned Friend makes a good additional point. He first, perfectly properly and sensibly, asked for clarity about the character of the penalties, and now makes a telling second point about how this Bill relates to other existing legislation that deals with these or related matters. A further note to the House, during the passage of this legislation, dealing with that second point is necessary, and I commit to providing it. Let me draw Members’ attention, as my right hon. and learned Friend will do, to the first part of the Bill, which deals with offences. I accept that that does not wholly answer the question—

Photo of Lindsay Hoyle Lindsay Hoyle Chair, Panel of Chairs, Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Panel of Chairs, Chairman of Ways and Means

Order. Let me help the Minister a little. He has asked for more time at the end in which to deal with various points, but what we are bothered about is eating into that time when so many Members wish to speak. Being quicker in responses would help.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am grateful to the Minister for his response, and I look forward to such a review happening. It would be good if it could take place in plenty of time before the Bill is passed, because we must have this issue in mind if we want to take different steps in respect of this matter.

Let me move on to new clause 2 and the associated amendment 18, which reflect some of the important concerns of the Intelligence and Security Committee. The Bill contains some welcome reforms to the commissioners who are currently responsible for the audit of authorisations and warrants that govern the use of intrusive powers. I am sure that all Members will agree that the new judicial commissioners will be critical in providing the assurance we need that the intrusive powers are being used appropriately.

What is currently missing, however, is a power to refer cases to the commissioners by the Intelligence and Security Committee. The ISC considers strategic issues and overall policies, including operations of significant national interest, but that is quite a different role from the commissioners who audit specific authorisations and warrants. The Committee sees our roles as complementary and, at times, our own work will throw up concerns about issues that we ourselves are not in a position to investigate. It is entirely appropriate that matters arising from a strategic or high-level inquiry conducted on behalf of Parliament by the ISC be capable of being referred to the commissioners for more detailed audit.

To date, however, I have to say that the informal process has not been working well. I mentioned previously that the ISC discovered that the Interception of Communications Commissioner did not know how many selection rules GCHQ applied to its bulk intercept materials. In such circumstances, the ISC should be able to refer that matter to the commissioner to ensure that he investigates the selection rules and provides thorough oversight.

To provide a further example, in its report on the killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby, the ISC identified a number of concerns about the involvement of the intelligence services prior to events and particularly in respect of one of the killers. Despite numerous invitations to discuss the matter, the Prime Minister referred it to the commissioner, yet despite numerous representations to the commissioner for an opportunity for the ISC to raise its concerns directly with him, that opportunity has never been taken up. Neither has there been any response of any kind to the ISC’s representations.

I want to emphasise that the commissioner is independent. There is no suggestion on the part of the Committee that we should be telling the commissioner what to do, but if informal channels of communication do not seem to be working very well, it seems to us that greater co-operation is required to make this and every other aspect of our scrutiny and the commissioner’s scrutiny work better. It would therefore be helpful if there were a clear mechanism by which the commissioner could receive a reference and be required to acknowledge it. That is why we tabled new clause 2. It has been suggested that this might be in some way improper because the commissioner has a judicial function. I have to say that although the commissioner is a person who must have held judicial office, being a commissioner is not a judicial function, so I cannot see for the life of me why this requirement cannot be placed on him.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

I have listened very carefully to what my right hon. and learned Friend has said about amendment 18, which the Government are prepared to accept. On the first part of new clause 2, the Government are prepared to accept referral in principle, but I would like to address in greater detail in my closing remarks, my concerns about reporting. I am sure my right hon. and learned Friend will listen carefully to what I have to say in due course.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield

I will certainly listen very carefully to what my hon. and learned Friend has to say. It was on that basis, I should make clear, that I tabled new clause 2 as a probing amendment. If he can provide me with some reassurance, we will leave it there. This is an important issue, and the wording is crucial. We did not intend to put any constraint whatever on the commissioner in respect of the conclusions he reached, and I could even envisage the commissioner writing back and saying, “I have taken a preliminary look, but I’m afraid I disagree with you, and I do not think this is worthy of my investigation.” That is the lowest level of response that the Committee would hope to get from the commissioner. On that basis, I find it difficult to see that that would be putting improper pressure on the commissioner to provide a response.

I gratefully accept what the Minister for Security, my right hon. Friend Mr Hayes has said about amendment 18. This means that we shall be able to go to the Prime Minister and ask him to give a direction in certain circumstances. Indeed, if the leading member of the Executive will be able to give a direction to the commissioner to carry out an investigation, it could hardly be improper for us merely to ask the commissioner to consider and acknowledge a request to investigate something.

I shall turn briefly to amendment 8, which deals with the oversight of safeguards relating to bulk powers. When we reported on the draft Bill, we recommended that bulk equipment interference warrants be removed from the Bill entirely. We said that we had

“not been provided with sufficiently compelling evidence as to why the Agencies require Bulk Equipment Interference warrants, given how broadly Targeted Equipment Interference warrants can be drawn”.

In response to that recommendation, the Government helpfully provided the Committee with further extensive classified evidence, which we scrutinised in great detail. After carefully considering it, we concluded that there were circumstances—target discovery was an example—that would require a bulk equipment interference warrant and could not simply be covered by a thematic warrant. However, central to our willingness to accept that change is the need for underlying safeguards, policies, procedures and access controls to be in place.

In the last Parliament, the Committee’s inquiry on privacy and security examined at great length the underlying safeguards for bulk interception, and it was those that convinced the Committee that bulk interception was properly controlled. We are told that the same principle is going to apply to bulk equipment interference. We have sought assurances from the Government that the same safeguards, policies, procedures and access controls that apply to bulk interception will also be applied to interference, and we have received those assurances.

Nevertheless, given how critical those underlying safeguards are, we regard it as essential that the Bill place an obligation on the commissioner to have particular regard to the privacy safeguards when reviewing all matters under the Bill. The reason that this must be clearly stated on the face of the Bill is that the Committee discovered in its previous inquiry that the current Interception of Communications Commissioner did not know the detail of the underlying safeguards for bulk interception. This cannot therefore be taken for granted; there must be a specific obligation in statute.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Conservative, South East Cambridgeshire

New clause 5 relates to privacy and states that the public authority must have regard to

“whether what is sought to be achieved by the warrant, authorisation or notice could reasonably be achieved by other less intrusive means”.

If the new clause is accepted, could that affect the point that my right hon. and learned Friend is making? Would not the least intrusive method possible have to be used?

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield

I think my hon. Friend makes a good point. I have an underlying confidence that the amendment we are discussing might commend itself to those on the Government Front Bench. On that basis, I do not intend to labour this point any further. I felt it was important to set it out, however, because it marked a significant shift in the Committee’s approach to this legislation. I wanted the House to understand why that change had come about after we had been given the extra classified briefing and why we came to the conclusion that we should accept this principle, alongside essential safeguards.

Photo of David Davis David Davis Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden

I have not read the individual amendments, so I am flying blind here. However, there is no doubt that this power is the most intrusive power in the Government’s armoury. One of the problems historically has been that the sheer volume of work being conducted means that scrutiny and oversight can sometimes slip. Would my right hon. and learned Friend’s amendment actually require the investigation of every single bulk intervention?

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield

The amendment would require that

“the Investigatory Powers Commissioner must, in particular, keep under review the operation of safeguards to protect privacy.”

In our view, it is crystal clear that such a provision would meet the needs that we have expressed. As I have said, the Committee has been satisfied that the rules relating to bulk interception are adequate to provide the necessary safeguards. So, as long as we apply identical standards to equipment interference, the Intelligence and Security Committee believes that this process could be made to operate properly.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 6:15 pm, 6th June 2016

I hear what my right hon. and learned Friend has said. He will be aware that, because of the arguments put forward by him and others—including Opposition Members—on bulk powers, we have agreed to a further independent review. The point of clarity here is that the review will look at the range of bulk powers and apply its assessment of necessity across that range. I just wanted to give him that additional assurance.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield

I am grateful to the Minister. Clearly, the more targeted a power can be, the better. Indeed, that was one of the reasons that the Committee expressed concern about whether the bulk power was required in the case of equipment interference. However, in classified evidence to us, the Government made the compelling case that simply relying on thematic powers or targeted powers would be likely to be insufficient and unsatisfactory. In changing our position, we have acknowledged that. However, that makes it all the more important that the safeguards should be properly in place. Those are the key amendments in this group that I wanted to bring before the House. I simply reiterate my earlier comment that the Government have really co-operated and moved a great deal in relation to this legislation. They have responded positively, as I shall be able to illustrate as we come to the further amendments.

Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Justice and Home Affairs)

I have unashamedly tabled a lot of amendments to the Bill, including to part 8, and the Scottish National party will also support amendments tabled by others.

I pay tribute to Keir Starmer, with whom I worked closely in Committee. There are areas of divergence between the SNP and Labour on the Bill, but it was a pleasure to work with him and I hope that there will be other occasions on which Labour and the SNP can work together harmoniously.

I recognise that the Government have made significant concessions on part 1 of the Bill. I welcome their attempt in new clause 5 to introduce an overarching privacy requirement. Their belated conversion to the central recommendation of the Intelligence and Security Committee is a tribute to the arguments advanced by Opposition Members in Committee. I have to say, however, that I prefer new clause 21, tabled by the Labour party, which trenchantly states that regard must be given to the Human Rights Act 1998. For reasons that other hon. Members have already given, that is important. It is encouraging to see the Government making reference in their own amendments to the Human Rights Act. That gives me hope that they might have retreated from their plan to repeal the Act even further than we had hoped. That could be one of the little bits of good news to come out of this exercise.

I am also happy to welcome Government new clause 6, and I thank the Minister for Security, Mr Hayes, for acknowledging that it reflects an amendment that was tabled by my hon. Friend Gavin Newlands and me. It is quite a historic occasion when the Government accept an amendment tabled by the SNP, and I should like to mark it. I just wish that they would look at more of my amendments, but I fear that they will not do so. We are, however, pleased that the Government have seen fit to respond to a number of the concerns raised in Committee. That said, I want to be clear that they will have to go an awful lot further before the Scottish National Party can contemplate giving the Bill our support.

As I said on Second Reading, we would like to be able to support some aspects of the Bill, because they are necessary for law enforcement across these islands and reflect some powers that are already in force in Scotland. It is also a good idea to consolidate the powers and to have a modern, comprehensive law. However, we remain concerned about the legality of some of the powers that are still on the face of the Bill and the fact that they significantly exceed, such as with the retention of internet connection records, what is authorised in other western democracies. We continue to have severe concerns about the bulk powers enabled by parts 6 and 7 of the Bill. We are pleased that the Government have conceded that there should be a properly independent review of the bulk powers, which was argued for by both Labour and SNP Members in Committee, but we are yet to see confirmation of the review’s remit. I want to associate myself with what the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras said about the review needing to look not at whether the bulk powers are useful, but at whether they are necessary. We look forward to the publication of the correspondence between the Government and the Labour party, so that we can see what is being proposed. My hon. Friends the Members for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) and for Glasgow North East (Anne McLaughlin) will address bulk powers and internet connection records in more detail tomorrow.

I led for the SNP in Committee, where we tabled numerous amendments to try to get the principle of suspicion-based surveillance to run throughout the Bill. We support the idea that warrants should be focused and specific and that oversight should be robust and meaningful. Nearly all our amendments were opposed or ignored by the Government, which is why we cannot give the Bill our support at this stage.

On Second Reading, Mr Clarke sought to mock me for making what he described as

“combative and partisan speeches in support of an abstention”.—[Official Report, 15 March 2016;
Vol. 607, c. 847.]

He expressed a degree of confidence in a shared consensus across this House about the principles that we should be adopting. I am afraid that my experience in Committee has shown his confidence to be misplaced. The amendments tabled by the Government for debate today are only a partial response to our legitimate concerns. The Government need to pay more than lip service to the importance of privacy and to the principles of necessity and proportionality.

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Lady for giving way, because I agree with what she is saying. May I suggest that there is one means by which the Government could demonstrate good faith? In order to get to a vote on new clause 21, we will first have to vote down new clause 5. If the Government are serious about listening to the House, could they not withdraw new clause 5 to allow us to have a vote on new clause 21?

Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Justice and Home Affairs)

That is an excellent suggestion that the Government should consider carefully.

I also mentioned on Second Reading that the United Nations special rapporteur had expressed concern about the Bill’s provisions, especially the bulk powers. That is why it remains the SNP’s position that until such time as a case has been made for the necessity of bulk powers, they should be removed from the Bill.

I make no apology for tabling numerous amendments, because this is a constitutionally important Bill. Their purpose is to try to bring the Bill into line with international human rights norms and to make it properly lawful. If the Bill is passed in its current form, there is a real risk that it will be the subject of challenge. Many of the threads running through it, such as the retention of data and bulk powers, have already been the subject of successful challenges or are awaiting the outcome of decisions. We need to be careful about passing powers into law when their legality has already been questioned by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, and a court in England.

In reality, I know that our amendments will not be accepted because we are already running out of time. We simply have not had enough time to consider the Bill. We have two days for Report, which I know is unusual, but we have short periods of time to speak about important parts of the Bill. I am only at the stage of making some introductory remarks and will have to curtail what I say about part 8 in the interest of other Members getting the right to speak. That will happen as we go through each part of programme motion.

Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley

I share the hon. and learned Lady’s concern that maybe there is not enough time to consider the Bill as fully as she or I would like, but I am a bit confused. If that is the case, why did she not oppose the programme motion?

Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Justice and Home Affairs)

I knew that that was a pointless exercise that would have eaten into the time that we have, so not opposing it was a practical decision.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

More pointedly, the Committee stage finished a day early, so why did she not debate the Bill for another day in Committee?

Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Justice and Home Affairs)

If anyone reads the records of that Committee, they will see that I made more than my fair share of contributions. I do not have any problem with that. My issue is that other Members—the people sitting behind me, the Labour Members and Government Members—will not get a chance to speak and that we will not get a chance to vote on more than a handful of amendments. Given the degree of concern expressed about the Bill, it is frankly ridiculous that we will get to vote only on maybe eight or nine amendments over the next couple of days out of the hundreds of amendments that have been tabled. I am not ashamed to say that that is no way to legislate. We need to look at the way we go about things.

I am going to have to cut my cloth according to how much time is left, and I want to try to address some of the key SNP amendments to part 8 of the Bill, dealing first with amendment 465 and 466 to clause 194. Part 8 deals with oversight. At an earlier stage in the process, the Government said that they wanted to create a world-leading oversight body, but they have failed to do that. Our amendments seek to say that in addition to the investigatory powers and judicial commissioners there should be a separate body, known as the investigatory powers commission. It is not just some little notion of mine or of the SNP; it is what was recommended by the Royal United Services Institute’s independent surveillance review, the Joint Committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill, and by David Anderson QC’s investigatory powers review. David Anderson said that there should be a new independent surveillance and intelligence commission. It is a matter not only of what it is called; it is matter of what it actually does. Other hon. Members have tabled amendments relating to separating out the judicial and audit functions, and in the unlikely event that we get a chance to vote on them, the SNP will support them.

In written and oral evidence to the Bill Committee, we heard from Joanna Cavan, the head of the interception of communications commissioner’s office. She reminded us that the judicial commissioners will deal only with some 2% of the applications falling within the remit of the oversight body. The remaining 98% will be subject to post-facto oversight only, so it is vital that that oversight is independent and robust. Creating a separate commission, as recommended by the three bodies I mentioned, would help to form a distinction between the approval and post-facto audit elements of the oversight body and would avoid the idea that judicial commissioners might be marking their own homework. That is what Labour’s amendment 146 seeks to address and the SNP will support it if we get a chance to do so. Joanna Cavan also told us that she had spoken to a number of the UK’s international oversight counterparts and that some had expressed surprised that the UK was going down the route of putting both the approval and the post-facto audit elements into the same body. Those amendment are crucial and I will be pressing them to a vote if I possibly can.

I turn now to the SNP’s amendments 467 and 469 and the question of the appointment of the judicial commissioners. I listened to what the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras said in his speech, but the SNP does not think that Labour’s amendment goes far enough. The Government have made much of the main safeguard in the Bill being the role of judicial commissioners and the double lock, so it is vital that we get the judicial commissioner appointment process right. I suggest that, like the Justices of the United Kingdom Supreme Court, the commissioners should come from the jurisdictions and the judicial pool across the United Kingdom, not just the English Bench, and that the public must be confident that they are selected on merit, rather than because they can be trusted by government to be conservative or pro the state in their decision making. The SNP amendments therefore propose that, as well as having consultation with the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland and the Lord President in Scotland, these appointments should be subject to recommendations made by the independent Judicial Appointments Board of Scotland, the independent Judicial Appointments Commission in England and Wales, or the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission.

It is now recognised across the UK as a crucial constitutional principle that there should be the independent appointment of judges. I accept that these judicial commissioners are going to come from a pool that has already been through that independent process, but the point is that if they are simply selected by the Prime Minister on the recommendation of the Lord Chief Justice or the Lord President, there could be a suspicion that they have been selected because they are a “safe pair of hands” or somebody who will not rock the boat, rather than because they are the right person for the job. The way to have the proper independent appointment of persons performing a judicial function is to put this through the independent board.

Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Leader of the House of Commons), Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee 6:30 pm, 6th June 2016

As usual, my hon. and learned Friend is making a powerful case. Does she agree that the judicial commissioners are the big flaw in the Government’s proposals today? This idea that somehow the Prime Minister could simply just agree with what has been suggested by judicial commissioners is concerning, because he could also disagree with what has been proposed and suggested. Does she have any concerns about that?

Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Justice and Home Affairs)

I do, but let us suppose the judicial commissioners have been selected by an independent board. The Judicial Appointments Board of Scotland, the Judicial Appointments Commission—in England and Wales—and the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission are not made up just of lawyers; there are lay people and people from other walks of life on these bodies. That is to give the public confidence in the independent appointment process of the judiciary, and it is very important that the public—our constituents, who have concerns about how far the powers in this Bill are going—have confidence that the judicial commissioners who will be performing the oversight functions and enforcing the safeguards on this Bill are appointed independently, rather than being the right chap for the job being chosen. I choose my words advisedly there.

I am very conscious of not eating up too much time, Mr Deputy Speaker. I have discussed two crucial amendments that I would like to put to a vote on part 8. I have tabled other amendments that others will perhaps be able to speak about, such as the measures on post-notification following surveillance and the notification of errors. I briefly wish to turn to amendment 482, which is designed to put it beyond doubt that voluntary, unsolicited disclosures are protected and that a whistleblower is protected from criminal prosecution. The amendment reflects our concern that provisions in the Bill may inadvertently risk discouraging or preventing individuals within public authorities or agencies, or in communication services providers, from approaching the Investigatory Powers Commissioner with concerns or communicating with the commission frankly. Throughout the Committee process, we attempted to amend the Bill by inserting a public interest defence for whistleblowers. Regrettably, the Government were not prepared to accept it, but I was happy that when I proposed an amendment similar to this one to part 8, the Solicitor General said in Committee that he recognised the sentiment behind the amendment and was of a mind to give it further consideration. I urge the Government now to make a gesture by supporting this amendment, which I may push to a vote if I get the chance to do so.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

The hon. and learned Lady is absolutely right in her recollection, and I am giving this matter anxious consideration. I would, however, point out that clause 203, dealing with the information gateway, underpins the important principles that she outlines about the rights of whistleblowers. I hope that is of some assistance.

Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Justice and Home Affairs)

I hear what the Solicitor General says, but we took clause 203 into account when framing this amendment, and we remain of the view that it needs to be put beyond doubt in the Bill that whistleblowers will be protected from criminal prosecution and that there will be a public interest defence. I will mention that again when discussing other parts of the Bill.

Time prevents me from talking about the fact that the right of appeal in respect of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal is, regrettably, curtailed, but I do not think we are going to get to deal with that today. What I really want to say in conclusion is that this Bill seeks to put on a statutory footing very extensive powers, and it is vital that there is proper oversight of the way in which they are exercised. Part 8, as it stands, is pretty mealy-mouthed. It does not even implement the central recommendation of RUSI, the Joint Committee and David Anderson that there should be a separate investigatory powers commission. Without these amendments proposed by the SNP on key recommendations about oversight, we cannot support the Bill in its current form.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns Conservative, Chelmsford

I am pleased to take part in this debate, although I shall only speak briefly because I know that many of my right hon. and hon. Friends, and Opposition Members, wish to participate. What we are debating in this group of amendments is crucial, because we are dealing with investigatory powers and, specifically, the role of technology in policing the modern age. Although I represent a constituency in Essex, which sometimes seems a world away from Westminster, I can tell hon. Members that my constituents and I worry about the same things: how we protect our country’s visible and invisible borders; how we keep our local community safe; and how we spot young people at risk of abuse or of going off the rails, so that we can do something about it before it is too late.

I certainly want to ensure that our liberties are fully understood and protected. That is why I welcomed the fact that during the Committee stage, which I took part in towards the end, the Government, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, the Solicitor General and the Minister for Security were prepared to listen to arguments—particularly those made by Keir Starmer—that sought to strengthen the protections without compromising the aims of the legislation. It was refreshing, in many ways, not to have the normal Punch and Judy politics, whereby everything the Opposition proposed must be wrong because the Government had not thought of it first. That give and take, which is shown in Government new clauses 5 and 6, and in some of the amendments, particularly amendments 33 to 38 and 45 to 48, is important in meeting concerns about protecting civil liberties without compromising the main aims of the Bill. Those amendments have been tabled to make it clear that warrants or other authorisations should not be granted where information could be reasonably obtained by less intrusive means.

More than anything, however, we have to ensure the liberty of my constituents to live quietly and peacefully, free from attack—that is, of course, the most fundamental liberty of all—and it must be protected from those who wish them harm. Today such people live everywhere, and they have the powers, through the internet and modern communication techniques, to be everywhere, plotting, planning and executing their evil deeds. That is why I was pleased to see the supporting provisions that this group of amendments address in ensuring that we have not only those protections for my constituents and others, but a sympathetic and reasonable approach to protecting people’s civil liberties.

This Bill goes further than ever before in terms of transparency, making clear the most sensitive powers available to the security and intelligence agencies and the strict safeguards that apply to them. The controls on bulk powers and the double lock protection, which requires a sign-off for action by not just the Home Secretary but independent commissioners, are extremely important in winning public confidence in the measures being proposed. That will be discussed in greater detail when those Committee provisions come before us later in our proceedings on this Report stage.

I ask those who worry about interception powers to remember the following simple facts relating to technical capability. Since 2010, the majority of MI5’s top priority British counter-terrorism investigations have used intercepted material in some form to identify, understand or disrupt plots to harm Britain and its citizens. In 2013, this material was estimated to form between 15% and 20% of the total intelligence picture in counter-terrorism investigations. Data obtained by the National Crime Agency suggested that in 2013-14, interception played a critical role in investigations that resulted in more than 2,200 arrests and the seizure of more than 750 kg of heroin and 2,000 kg of cocaine, more than 140 firearms, and more than £20 million.

I believe that the power to intercept communications from potentially very dangerous people has helped to keep my constituents and those of other right hon. and hon. Members much safer and much more secure in their homes, in their jobs and on the streets they walk every day; but I also recognise the calls from some that we must be careful not to risk the fundamental liberties of our democracy as we do battle with potential terrorists. The Government have clearly been mindful of the Wilson doctrine and have tabled amendments, which I welcome, to require that the Prime Minister approve, rather than just be consulted on, all equipment interference warrants relating to parliamentarians.

We must ensure that the powers that we give to our police and security agencies, while they are sufficiently transparent, are also fit for purpose. Terrorists and other threats to my constituents’ safety are constantly evolving and adapting their techniques to trump the safety system. They do not want to get caught; they want to catch us out, and that is why we must be prepared to adapt our rules to keep pace with technology. We cannot use an analogue approach to tackling criminals in a digital age. Such an attitude just is not safe, and I am not prepared to go back to Chelmsford and explain to my constituents there and in Great Baddow, Chelmer Village, Beaulieu Park and Old Moulsham that I was not prepared to support measures designed to make them all more secure.

I support the proposals that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has outlined to strengthen judicial commissioners’ oversight and give commissioners a role authorising national security notices and technical capability notices, but we must not lose sight of the essence of why we need these proposals: we need them to help our police and security agencies to better identify the internet activity of potential threats, and indeed victims of crime, so they can do their jobs more quickly and effectively.

The people outside Westminster who think this is about stopping people being rude on Twitter, or cleaning up the Facebook jungle, are wrong. The Bill is about protecting those rights—the right to be irreverent or to disagree; the right to surf the net without being at risk from those who would do us harm. The Government have acted properly by being prepared to listen and to think again to a degree that I have not often encountered in the past. They have considered carefully, and we should be careful not to assume that our police and security agencies do not need these powers as amended, with the new safeguards that have been promised today. For those reasons, I shall support my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Lobby tonight.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Reference was made earlier to an exchange of correspondence that I enjoyed with Keir Starmer. I wanted you and the House to know that that correspondence is now available in the Vote Office for the information of Members.

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Chair, Human Rights (Joint Committee) 6:45 pm, 6th June 2016

I rise to speak in support of amendment 146, which stands in my name and those of fellow members of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. The Committee conducted legislative scrutiny of the Bill and published our report—a unanimous report—on 2 June. Like previous speakers in this debate and everyone in their right mind, we wanted to make sure that the Government and, acting on behalf of the Government, the security services have the right intercept powers to keep us safe, while at the same time respecting privacy and not invading it abusively. I thank the members of the Committee who worked on that scrutiny, the legal adviser to the Committee, Professor Murray Hunt, the Committee staff and those who gave evidence.

Because I hope to catch your eye when we debate the next group of amendments, Mr Deputy Speaker, I shall speak briefly to amendment 146, echoing the points made by Joanna Cherry, who speaks on behalf of the Scottish National party. The amendment is about the role of the judicial commissioners. In essence, the commissioners are doing two things. First, they approve warrants issued by those who have the power to issue warrants—a very important role. A warrant that is not approved is a dead duck; it has to be stopped there and then. The role played by the commissioners in the approval process is set out in clause 21 and subsequent clauses. Secondly, the commissioners have an oversight and reporting function, which is set out in clause 194. They review and oversee the authorisation of warrants; they report to the Prime Minister and that report has to be published to Parliament.

It is a problem to have the same person both carrying out approval of a warrant and overseeing their approval of the warrant. The purpose of having all these measures in the Bill is to get them right. I pay tribute to the Home Secretary for her determination to understand and respond to the concerns. I hope that she will respond to the concern I am setting out now. I am not sure it is necessary to have two separate organisations, as the SNP propose in their amendment; but I am absolutely sure that there has to be some separation of functions. Oversight of oneself is not realistic oversight.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins Conservative, Louth and Horncastle

The Joint Committee on the draft Bill debated this matter in some detail. We concluded that it is better for judicial commissioners to have experience on both sides of the fence, as it were, just as at the criminal Bar barristers tend to prosecute and defend, so that they have knowledge of both sides. Secondly, the Committee was optimistic that it would help to attract judges of the right calibre to apply to be auditors.

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Chair, Human Rights (Joint Committee)

It might well be useful for commissioners to have experience of both functions, but not at the same time and not using the same team of staff. I think ours is a relatively modest but important proposal. I am sure the hon. Lady can see that the arrangement could be clarified to create some sort of Chinese wall between the two functions. We are not suggesting that the functions be performed by separate organisations, but the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West may be about to persuade us all that separate organisations are needed.

Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Justice and Home Affairs)

I agree with the right hon. and learned Lady to an extent. Does her argument not boil down to the basic principle of Scots law and English law that no one should be a judge in their own cause? If one person grants a warrant then puts a different hat on and looks over whether that warrant was granted properly, they are being a judge in their own cause and there simply is not the proper transparency or oversight needed for public confidence.

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Chair, Human Rights (Joint Committee)

That is precisely my point. The Joint Committee on Human Rights and the independent reviewer have been helpful to the Government and bent over backwards in saying that separate organisations are not necessary—prima facie, one would say separate organisations are needed—but there should at the very least be Chinese walls. I therefore introduced the proposal in an amendment, and I hope to receive a response from the Government before the Bill goes to the Lords so that the matter can be looked at again, because we are a Joint Committee, and there are Members in the Lords who are eager to look at this. In the meantime, the Government’s responsibility, if they table amendments, is to submit a European convention on human rights memorandum with them. They have failed to do so. We regard those things as important. They are important for the House, so I urge them to do that. They should not table shedloads of amendments without producing an ECHR memorandum.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Conservative, South East Cambridgeshire

Privacy is the right to be left alone. It was once proclaimed to be the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilised men, which is why the privacy provisions in the Bill are important. There are many such provisions interweaved in the Bill. To give three important examples, targeted and bulk inception can take place only in the interests of national security, of tackling serious crime and of the economic wellbeing of the UK. It can take place only with judicial authorisation, and communications data—who, where, when—obtained from service providers have to be justified on the basis of a necessary and proportionate test. The relevant clauses all ensure that any interference with privacy is kept to a minimum.

I am pleased to have served on the Bill Committee, where the issue of privacy was raised with some force by Keir Starmer. I am pleased that as a result of the points that he and other Members made the Bill will be amended with an overarching clause on privacy to further protect and ensure the privacy of individuals. As my right hon. Friend Sir Simon Burns said, new clause 5 provides for the public authority to have regard to the question of whether the action can be reasonably achieved by “less intrusive means”. It also provides a new requirement for the consideration of the public interest in the protection of privacy. New clause 6 provides for an overarching civil liability, adding to the extensive criminal penalties in the Bill.

Those safeguards strike the right balance between privacy and scrutiny. As the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras said, safety, security and privacy are not an either/or. That balance has been recognised in Europe, where the ECHR provides under article 8 respect for private and family life and also states that interference by a public authority is legitimate in some circumstances—in fact, the very circumstances outlined in the Bill, including the interests of national security, public safety, the economic wellbeing of the country and the prevention of crime and disorder.

The same balance has been recognised by the UN. In 2014, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated:

“Where there is a legitimate aim and appropriate safeguards are in place, a State might be allowed to engage in quite intrusive surveillance” if

“it is both necessary and proportionate”.

That balance is recognised by the public. A TNS BMRB poll in 2014 stated that 71% of respondents prioritised the reduction of the threat posed by terrorists, even if that eroded people’s right to privacy. The Bill seeks to ensure that the balance is right, and in enacting it we ought to remember that interference with privacy is often too much until it is too little.

Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley

It is a pleasure to follow Lucy Frazer. She took the opportunity to highlight the big principles, and showed how they are included in UN documents and the ECHR. It is useful to be reminded of that.

I speak as a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee, and support the amendments and new clauses tabled by Mr Grieve and other members of the Committee, including me. I will not read them all out, because he dealt with them comprehensively. However, I wish to make some points about a couple of our proposals. Before doing so, however, I want to refer to the report that the ISC produced in the last Parliament after taking evidence on the provisions in the draft Bill. My right hon. Friend Fiona Mactaggart and I both served on that Committee. I want to highlight two things in that report. First—and the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield covered this—the overriding principle of privacy, which the hon. and learned Member for South East Cambridgeshire discussed, had to be made clearer in the Bill, and set out as unambiguously as possible.

Secondly, the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield raised the issue of penalties. The measure does not exactly conform to what we wanted. We were concerned that the legislation was not consolidated into one measure. I shall deal with that more fully in a moment. Thirdly—if I do not take too much time dealing with the first and second concerns—I shall come on to the debate about judicial involvement in oversight. I hope to say a brief word about that.

I welcome new clause 5, which is helpful and goes much, if not all, of the way in meeting many concerns expressed by our Committee and by other parliamentary Committees, including Select Committees that have looked at the issue. However, in amendment 14—I know the Minister is going to refer to this, so I am not going to make a hard and fast principle out of it—we attempt to put privacy at the forefront of the Bill. If the Minister has found another way of doing that that would satisfy me I would be very pleased, but having read the Bill carefully, I do not think that there are sufficient safeguards to make it clear that that is the case.

The right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield referred to new clause 4, and was rightly exercised by the issue of penalties. I want to approach that issue from a slightly different direction. The Bill relies on existing legislation, including the Data Protection Act 1998 for which, if memory serves, I had ministerial responsibility. No apologies there—I think that the measure has served us quite well, although there might be other legislation for which I would apologise, but I am not going to say what it is. The Bill also relies on the Wireless and Telegraphy Act 2006, the Computer Misuse Act 1990, common law, as the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield said, and, finally, misfeasance in public office. It is important that we have more information about penalties because, with such a sprawling collection of existing legislation, if someone breaks the provisions in any of those measures there should be clear and unambiguous penalties. I think that the Minister is going to address that matter shortly.

New clause 2 was tabled by the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield, other members of the ISC and me. The right hon. and learned Gentleman made the point—nobody seems to have noted it, including Joanna Cherry—that a commissioner’s functions are not in any sense judicial. I am not going to argue the case fully at the moment, but I could envisage constructing a system where the process is more administrative—indeed, it is an administrative process—so the skills needed to operate it do not necessarily need to be judicial.

My right hon. and learned Friend Ms Harman and the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West began from the assumption that this has to be a judicial function. I did not disagree with much of what my right hon. Friend had to say—I have known her for more than 30 years, and I have found it very unwise to disagree with her—but she predicated her whole argument on the idea that this must be a judicial function. If it is a judicial matter, it will be resolved by other means.

I will not press the issue too far, but there is a problem with using a judicial position to carry out oversight. I hesitate to say this, because I think that everybody who has spoken so far—with the possible exception of Sir Simon Burns—is a lawyer, but having served on the Intelligence and Security Committee for the last 10 years, my experience is that there is a sense in which—this is not a specific criticism of the commissioner himself—a long and distinguished legal career has certain consequences, one of which is that people are not used to having to explain themselves. Judges judge and give their verdict, but they do that without any explanation. There is a serious problem in that commissioners who were previously members of the judiciary are reluctant to explain issues that have been raised with them or issues of concern because that is not the habit they have evolved over a lifetime’s experience in the judiciary.

Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley

Having mentioned lawyers, I guess I have to give way to one.

Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Conservative, Tonbridge and Malling

I am no lawyer, but having sat at the table of a judge for many years, I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that judges are well used to explaining their judgments. Indeed, if one reads their judgments, one will normally find an explanation so detailed that it would torture the mind, so I would not be at all surprised to hear that the commissioners will be very ready to give an explanation.

Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley

I have to say to the hon. Gentleman that that is not my experience. The right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield, who chairs our Committee, gave a specific example of where someone was unwilling not only to explain themselves but even to engage with the Committee. That is why I support new clause 2, which gives the Intelligence and Security Committee the ability to refer a matter to the commissioner and to at least give them a nudge in the right direction in terms of concerns that need to be looked at.

I do not share the complete pessimism of the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West. The Bill has moved an incredibly long distance since the original draft Bill. There is some way to go, but we may hear further concessions today or tomorrow. However, I would be grateful if the issues I have raised could be addressed by the Minister when he replies.

Photo of Stephen McPartland Stephen McPartland Conservative, Stevenage

I will keep my remarks short, Mr Deputy Speaker, as I appreciate that you want them to be short. I want to speak to new clause 16 and to amendments 189 to 195, but I will group them together.

I welcome new clause 5 because it puts privacy at the heart of the Bill. Although I found the draft Investigatory Powers Bill to be some kind of absolutely Orwellian nightmare that I would never have been able to support, this Bill goes some way towards being something that I would be able to support. It is horrible that we live in a society where this House, as a cross-party organisation, will have to legalise mass surveillance of every man, woman and child in the United Kingdom who has an electronic device, but sadly that is the society we live in, and we have to have a trade-off between what keeps us free from terrorism and what keeps us free in terms of privacy. I appreciate the Government’s efforts in trying to put privacy at the heart of the Bill.

On my new clause and my amendments, I want to look at possibly introducing into the Bill notification of surveillance against innocent people. I have tabled 63 amendments because I know there will be a review before the Bill gets to the upper House. The Government have been incredibly conciliatory and have provided concessions all the way through. I consider both the Ministers on the Front Bench friends, and I have been speaking to them about the Bill for many months—for well over a year, in fact. I have tried to be constructive in my disagreements with them; my amendments are probing amendments—they are there not to cause difficulty but to try to tease out more information.

The Bill fails to provide a viable system of notification of surveillance, particularly for those who have been wrongly surveilled. The current drafting covers only error reporting, and it places a higher importance on public interest—I understand that that is the source of the dispute about whether we should have new clause 5 or new clause 21, in terms of privacy and what is in the public interest. The concepts of public interest and serious error are difficult to define, and that leads to the problem of the judicial commissioners and others having to decide what those concepts are, and whether there are varying degrees of them. I want the Bill to state very clearly what we want them to be, so that we do not have that mission creep.

Adding notification to the Bill through a new clause would go some way towards ensuring that privacy is further enhanced as the backbone of the Bill. To put the issue into context, the countries that permit notification of surveillance include America, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Ireland, Switzerland, Slovenia, Montenegro and Hungary, so this is not something that will be specific to the United Kingdom, and we will not be leading the way; we will be trying to catch up with our partners. I appreciate that each of those countries offers a different threshold in terms of how people will be surveilled, but there is no possibility of notification in the Bill at the moment. The Ministers have been very conciliatory, and if they want to intervene on me to say that they will accept my new clause 16, I will happily sit down. No, I didn’t think so. Never mind—we will keep trying.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

I am not going to surprise my hon. Friend or the House, but he will have noted that the changes we have brought forward to the Bill mean that if a serious error has been identified by the commissioner, the individual concerned will be notified. That is a significant and new provision, which goes some way towards satisfying his desire. Perhaps he can meet me halfway.

Photo of Stephen McPartland Stephen McPartland Conservative, Stevenage

I will certainly meet the Minister halfway, because I will not call a vote on my provisions, or vote against him on this aspect of the Bill. Obviously, I would like to get my own way, but I appreciate that this is about compromise, and both Ministers have been very good at compromising over the course of the Bill.

On error reporting and notification, it is worth noting the views expressed in sections 613 to 622 of the report by the Joint Committee on the draft Investigatory Powers Bill. I will not read them all out—you would not like that, Mr Deputy Speaker—but I would like to pull a few highlights out. The report states:

Clause 171 provides that the Investigatory Powers Commissioner must inform a person about any ‘serious error’
when the Investigatory Powers Tribunal agrees the error is serious”,

and when that is in the public interest. But why would it ever be in the public interest to inform somebody that the error was serious? I cannot imagine that it would ever be in the public interest to do so, so they would never be informed.

The report also noted that the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law felt that the approach in the draft Bill to error reporting was a matter of profound concern. Similarly, the Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office believed the provisions in the clause were weaker than the current well-established powers. The requirement that an error should cause significant prejudice or harm was also criticised for setting a very high bar. In addition, the test was criticised by the Law Society of Scotland, Privacy International, the Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office and Amnesty International UK for being poorly defined.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins Conservative, Louth and Horncastle

I will be grateful to my hon. Friend if he can answer this question; it may negate the need for me to make a speech on this point. I have looked very carefully at new clause 16 and, indeed, new clause 1, and I cannot find any reference to “error” in them. New clause 16 seems to be a general clause of notification to anyone who is subject to a warrant. Is that correct?

Photo of Stephen McPartland Stephen McPartland Conservative, Stevenage

I certainly do not take any credit for being good at drafting new clauses. New clause 16 may not mention “error”, but I think it is mentioned in amendments 189 to 195, with which it should be considered. In “A Question of Trust”, David Anderson, QC, recommended that the judicial commissioners be given the power to report errors to individuals. I appreciate that the Minister has moved towards my point of view.

In conclusion, the Joint Committee made two recommendations. The first was that referral to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal was unnecessary and cumbersome and created a brake on the notification of errors. The second was that the error-reporting threshold should be reviewed so that it was more specific and defined.

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

New clause 1 stands in my name and is supported by Scottish National party Members. It is remarkably similar to new clause 16, to which Stephen McPartland has just spoken. He says that his is a probing amendment; I regard mine as more than that, but I shall wait to hear what the Minister has to say when he replies to the debate.

I will preface my remarks on new clause 1 by highlighting some more general concerns. I absolutely agree with Joanna Cherry that the way in which today’s proceedings are being conducted is highly unsatisfactory. The time allowed is clearly insufficient. The Government have done themselves no favours, because all they do by insisting on conducting proceedings in this way is throw a bone to those in the other place and allow them to justify the greater degree of scrutiny that they will inevitably give to the Bill. It has already been referred to as a constitutional Bill that countenances the most egregious interference with individual liberty by the state. Such scrutiny ought to be done by this elected Chamber.

The fact that the Government are still taking on board amendments after the draft Bill, the report by David Anderson, QC, and the debate in Committee indicates an unsatisfactory attitude on their part. It shows that they are not yet putting privacy at the heart of the Bill, and that they are being dragged kicking and screaming to that position. On new clauses 5 and 21, it is unsatisfactory that the best provision has been proposed by Keir Starmer, who speaks for the Opposition, and that we will not get to that unless we first vote down an inferior proposal that, while adequate and an improvement, is not as good as that proposed by the official Opposition. I reiterate a point that I made in an intervention on the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West: the Government will still have the opportunity, if they are minded to take it, to insist on their version in the other place at a later stage, but this House should be empowered to express a view on new clause 21, which for reasons of procedure it is not able to do at present.

The thinking behind new clause 1 is that sunlight is the best disinfectant. The question of whether the Government will accept the approach suggested by us and the hon. Member for Stevenage relates to the question of whether privacy is at the heart of the Bill. As things stand, an individual will be able to find out whether they have been the subject of intrusion under the Bill’s powers only through a whistleblower or public interest litigation. It is a question of happenstance. If the Government are sincere and prepared meaningfully to protect our liberties and individual rights, they should not object to a process with all the necessary safeguards, as outlined in new clause 1. There should be no objection to notifying those who have been the subject of surveillance once the surveillance has concluded. As the hon. Gentleman has pointed out, that idea is not novel. It happens in a number of jurisdictions and has already been the subject of judicial approval and, indeed, instruction from the European Court of Human Rights in two cases, namely Klass v. Germany in 1978, and Weber and Saravia v. Germany in 2006.

The Home Secretary has said times without number—the same point has been made by Ministers today—that at the end of this process she wants a world-leading piece of legislation. I very much hope that that is possible, but it is not what we have at the moment. The Bill lags far behind several jurisdictions with regard to the protection of the rights of the individual. It has come some way on the protection of privacy, but as others have said, there is still a great deal of distance to go. We are testing the bona fides of the Government in their statements of general application on meaningful protections—protections such as those proposed in new clause 1. I wait to hear with interest what the Minister has to say.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Conservative, Wimbledon 7:15 pm, 6th June 2016

I understand that you would like Members to be brief, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am not a lawyer and I was not a member of the Bill Committee, so I will be brief.

On Second Reading, I spoke about an issue that has not yet been discussed today: economic cybercrime, which I have spoken about frequently in this House. The Government’s amendments enhance our ability to attack it. Constituents write to us as Members of Parliament; my hon. and learned Friend Lucy Frazer has mentioned the huge number of privacy-related issues that have been raised, including the need to ensure that, if the Government were to interfere with the right to privacy, there would be proper oversight, safeguards and transparency. I do not need to re-rehearse her arguments, but I say to the Government and my right hon. Friend the Minister for Security that while new clause 5 may not be as perfect as those lawyers present would like it to be, it goes a long way towards satisfying the public.

I want to address two aspects of new clause 5. First, our constituents are interested in the issues covered by subsections (2)(a) and (4)(c). The onus is now on the need to consider less intrusive means and proportionality. That is an obligation. Notwithstanding my hon. and learned Friend’s comments about the need to understand the exact penalties for misuse, those two particular subsections go a long way to putting in place some protection.

Secondly, on economic cybercrime, we often talk about huge attacks on bank systems. New clause 5(2)(b) and (4)(b) relate to not just the public interest in detecting serious crimes, but the integrity and security of telecommunication systems and postal services. The reality is that there is a huge amount of low-level cybercrime that then moves into more serious economic cybercrime. By addressing the issue in the Bill, we are making a statement of intent. Given that there are so many e-commerce transactions today, it is hugely important that we protect and maintain the integrity of telecommunication systems, in the widest sense of the term, and postal services.

Whatever else may be, those of us who are not lawyers —we are not entirely sure what the difference is between new clause 21(2)(a) and (b), and new clause 5(4)(d) and (e), but I am looking forward to my right hon. and learned Friend explaining it—say “Well done” to the Government. New clause 5(2)(b) and 5(4)(b) protect all e-commerce, and putting the emphasis on maintaining the integrity of services, particularly telecoms services, will take away some of the public’s criticisms about the snoopers’ charter. The key points about subsections (2)(b) and (4)(b) are extraordinarily important, and I am pleased to see them in the Bill.

Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Conservative, Tonbridge and Malling

It is a great pleasure to speak on Report, particularly as the heirs of Walsingham and Egerton are on the Treasury Bench sitting in judgment over a Bill that will shape our civil liberties. In their day, Walsingham broke the code, and Egerton tried Mary, Queen of Scots. The techniques that they used are still in active use today, but they have been updated. It is a question no longer of codes on paper, smuggled out in brandy bottles, but of codes hidden in computer messages, apps and other forms of communication. That is why I welcome the Bill, which updates historical practice for the present day. It is essential that we put this into statute, because for the first time we are putting into a Bill what we actually mean. For years, the state has used interpretations of legal practice rather than setting out, and debating properly, what it should do. That is why I particularly welcome the joint approach to the Bill. Keir Starmer has been instrumental in bringing a co-operative mood to the House, and I am grateful to him for doing so.

The Bill balances privacy against other considerations. As my hon. and learned Friend Lucy Frazer pointed out, privacy is a fundamental right of all British citizens, and one that we have enjoyed for many years. But that privacy is only worth anything if we can live in safety, not just from the obvious risk of terrorism but from the risks of child abuse, drug smuggling and other forms of violence against the people of this country. I am grateful for the fact that the Government have balanced that privacy against those threats.

I will leave it there, because there are many more amendments to come. I could address some of them in detail, and perhaps I will be called to speak again.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins Conservative, Louth and Horncastle

I had the privilege of being a member of the Joint Committee and of the Bill Committee, so I feel as though I have lived with this Bill for many months. I will be happy to see it become law when that happens. This Bill is vital in the modern age, and it is above party politics. It is about doing the right thing for our country and for our constituents.

The Joint Committee and the Bill Committee scrutinised the Bill intensively, and I think we considered something like 1,000 amendments in the Bill Committee. I am happy to say that we managed, nevertheless, to find some areas of agreement, namely that it was necessary to introduce a Bill to set out the investigatory powers of the security services and law enforcement agencies, and to update the scrutiny and transparency of those powers and the people who use them. It is a credit to everyone, on both sides of the House, who supports the principle of the Bill.

I welcome, as others have done, new clause 5 and Government amendment 30, which will put all related criminal offences in the Bill. That will create transparency by making the misuse of these powers absolutely obvious. I want to look at two proposed new clauses that have not received the same level of scrutiny as the Bill has enjoyed; I shall endeavour to change that in the next couple of minutes. New clause 1— the notifying criminals clause, as someone remarked to me—raises grave concerns about our impact on fighting crime and terror. I am conscious that Mr Carmichael, who tabled the new clause, is not his place. For anyone who has not read it, it would require the police and security services to notify, within 30 days of a warrant ending, anyone who has been investigated. There is no requirement for an error to have occurred, or anything of that nature. The only requirement is that someone’s data have been investigated.

Photo of James Cartlidge James Cartlidge Conservative, South Suffolk

On the point about a time limit of three months, is my hon. Friend aware that in 58% of requests for communications data in child abuse investigations, the data are more than six months old?

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins Conservative, Louth and Horncastle

Very much so. That shows the time sensitivity of many investigations, and I am grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing it up. We know from evidence sessions in both Committees that 100% of counter-terrorism cases and 90% of serious organised crime cases involve communications data evidence. We are talking about very serious cases indeed. My concern about new clause 1 is that it in no way removes the risk that high-level criminals and terror suspects will be told that they have been investigated by law enforcement and the security services. Such people are more likely to be the subject of warrants because of their criminality, so we would be handing the investigations to those criminals on a plate.

Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Conservative, Tonbridge and Malling

The level of encryption available in public today is such that new clause 1 would allow criminals to hide the deeds that they had formerly left unhidden, and therefore it would expose the country to even greater threat.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins Conservative, Louth and Horncastle

That is exactly right. My hon. Friend makes the point that I was about to make, in fact.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins Conservative, Louth and Horncastle

Not at all. [Interruption.] It has never stopped me before. The new clause will help criminals to evade investigation, arrest and prosecution. Serious organised crime gangs and terrorists talk to each other. They compare notes on investigative activities, whether ongoing or not. It will not necessarily be the first, second or third notification that starts to hint at the methodology of the police; it may be the 20th, but none the less those hints about patterns of behaviour will begin to emerge in the criminal world. Why on earth would this House pass legislation that would give serious organised crime gangs and terrorist gangs such an advantage?

Photo of Gavin Robinson Gavin Robinson Shadow Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights)

The hon. Lady is making a powerful point, but she is talking about a fear of what may be to come. Is she aware that already in Northern Ireland, a chief dissident republican has had the case against him dropped because the judge ordered that the security service had to unveil its surveillance techniques? If that is the case already, imagine what would happen if every dissident republican and every terrorist in the country got notification.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins Conservative, Louth and Horncastle

I am extremely grateful for that intervention, which shows powerfully just how important this is. I am conscious of the time, so I will make just one more point about new clause 1. Subsection (1)(e) sets out that people are to be told if they have been informed on by covert human intelligence sources. That means informants, in everyday language. The new clause, if passed, would help criminal gangs to find out who is informing on them—and, presumably, to do great harm to those informants, because no criminal likes a grass.

I am conscious that new clause 16 mirrors much of new clause 1. It does not, in fairness, contain the reference to CHISs, but the fact is that it will have a similarly devastating effect on law enforcement and security service operations in this country.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Labour, Slough

It seems to me that the reason for these amendments is the sense that there is not sufficient accountability in the secret services and other bodies. To that end, would the hon. Lady support new clause 2, proposed by the Intelligence and Security Committee, which would ensure that there could be proper investigation by a commissioner of anything that we felt required it?

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins Conservative, Louth and Horncastle

I hesitate to do the job of my Front-Bench colleagues, and I know that the Solicitor General will respond to that point.

I will finish by saying that the amendments and new clauses on privacy proposed by the Government reflect the fact that the scrutiny of the Bill has worked thus far and has been a worthwhile exercise. I hope that new clauses 1 and 16 will not trouble this House, because the Bill as it stands is much stronger for the many months of scrutiny it has received.

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art 7:30 pm, 6th June 2016

It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Victoria Atkins. This Bill runs to the absolute heart of Government—the duty to keep us safe. I will keep my very brief remarks to the issue of privacy, which was raised in Committee and remains a point of debate.

Nobody wishes to legislate to protect the public while at the same time unfairly and unreasonably restricting the rights of the individual. None of us wishes to give the state unnecessary powers. It was against such arbitrary authority that our first charter of rights, Magna Carta, was established, and why we can to this day find written into the stone floor of Tewkesbury abbey the words:

“Magna Carta est lex, caveat deinde rex”.

Magna Carta is law, and let the king beware. Today, as we debate the power of the state, I believe it is most certainly not the Head of State who threatens our law and safety, but those who threaten our state from within, and we must make our law accordingly.

The amendments that the Government have tabled on privacy protections go further than ever before in transparency, oversight and the safeguards that apply to the powers in the Bill. A great deal of advice has come from the Public Bill Committee, the ISC and the Opposition parties, and the Government have indeed listened. The amendments make it clear that warrants or other authorisation should not be granted where information could reasonably be obtained by less intrusive means. If the information is already on the internet—let us face it that there is plenty of such information—it can be got without recourse to the Bill’s provisions. The Government amendments also require persons exercising functions under the legislation to have regard to the public interest and the protection of privacy, as well as other principles that underpin the legislation. The amendments also make clear the criminal offences that apply to the misuse of powers under the Bill, which puts beyond doubt the severe penalties that would apply in the event of deliberate wrongdoing by a public authority.

Privacy is at the heart of this vital piece of legislation, but its point is protection. The House should remember the statistics cited by my right hon. Friend Sir Simon Burns, which I do not intend to repeat. We must be very careful not to dilute the Bill so much that the ability of our agencies to keep up with technology and those who use it in a very sophisticated way to do us harm is itself harmed. The baby must stay in the bath, while the dirty water is thrown out.

I know there has been a lot of interest in the Bill, but I also know that the amendments to it need to be weighed, rather than counted. In my estimation, it is a sound and important Bill. It will ensure that the warning in Tewkesbury abbey can be amended for our own time: “Magna Carta est lex, caveat deinde nequam”—Magna Carta is law, and let criminals beware.

Photo of Alan Mak Alan Mak Conservative, Havant

It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Caroline Nokes. Having spoken on Second Reading, when I focused on economic cybercrime, and having followed the progress of the Bill, I want to make a few brief remarks on the first group of amendments, particularly Government new clause 5.

Privacy is the ability of an individual or a group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby to express themselves selectively. The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals, but they share common themes. It was not a Latinist, but the Colombian novelist and Nobel prize winner Gabriel García Márquez who once observed:

“Everyone has three lives: public, private and secret.”

However, we all know there are some in our society whose secrecy cannot be allowed to prevail and whose privacy cannot be a shield that allows crimes to be committed, whether those crimes are terrorism, child abuse, people trafficking or cybercrime.

There are people who, as my hon. Friend Tom Tugendhat mentioned, attempt to hide from the rest of society behind passwords, encryptions and codes known only among themselves. Because of the speed of technological change, they are operating not just outside the law, but ahead of it. That is why the law must catch up, and the Bill, with the Government new clauses, will achieve such a goal.

If we are to enhance the law and to codify the powers that our security services need to keep us safe, we must ensure that the oversight regime is robust and satisfies the other watchdogs of our liberty—Parliament and the press. The Bill creates a world-leading oversight regime that brings together three existing commissioners and provides new powers and resources for a new independent Investigatory Powers Commissioner. Under the Bill, warrants must be subject to a new double lock in that they must be approved by the judicial commissioner before they can be issued by the Secretary of State.

Privacy is the mirror image of oversight, and the Bill and its amendments go very far in protecting individual rights. In particular, the Bill sets out the very specific circumstances in which the powers it provides for can be used. It makes clear the purposes for which those powers can be used, the overarching human rights obligation that constrains the use of those powers and whether each of the powers in the Bill is to be used in a targeted way or in bulk. The Bill goes on in that vein.

I believe that the Government have listened, acted and got the balance right between the powers necessary to keep us safe, the right to privacy of the individual and the oversight necessary to ensure that neither privacy nor safety is compromised. In conclusion, the Bill represents the pragmatic pursuit of safety in the modern age and an effective renewal of the law in the digital age. I urge the House to support its passage tonight and in the coming days.

Photo of Chris Green Chris Green Conservative, Bolton West

We know that, since 2010, the majority of security services’ counter-terrorism investigations have used intercepted material in some form to prevent those seeking to harm the UK and its citizens from doing so. It is vital that our security services are able to do their jobs well to maintain the operational capabilities of our law enforcement agencies and to prevent terrorism and other serious crimes. Living in the modern world with modern methods of communication, we must ensure our security services have the powers they need to keep us safe, while at the same time addressing privacy concerns and not inadvertently damaging the competitiveness of the UK’s rapidly expanding technology sector or communications businesses more widely.

I will not dwell on the privacy and oversight matters that so many right hon. and hon. Members have dealt with, but go straight on to the impact on the technological sector, which was covered by the Science and Technology Committee’s short inquiry on the Bill. One of the main concerns I heard from the technology sector in evidence sessions was the view that there needs to be more clarity about the extraterritorial application of the Bill and more consideration of its compatibility with the legislation of other nations. Failure to provide clarity will make it harder for the Government to achieve their own aim of delivering world-leading legislation. I am pleased that the Government have listened to the Committee’s concerns about industry, and that they intend to develop implementation plans for retaining internet connection records in response to the Committee’s recommendations.

In responding to the revised Bill, TechUK has praised the fact that the Government have responded to the criticism about ICRs. However, it has raised concerns that, despite that, no single set of data will constitute an internet connection record and that, in practice, it

“will depend on the service and service provider concerned”.

This highlights the difficulties that industry will face if required to generate and retain ICRs.

Although the Bill does not go as far as the Science and Technology Committee would have liked, by putting 100% of cost recovery into the Bill, the supporting documents reaffirm the Government’s long-standing position of reimbursing 100% of the costs. I am pleased that the Government have listened to the pre-legislative scrutiny that it and the Committees have provided.

In conclusion, although finding the balance between privacy and security is not an easy task, I believe that Britain needs to put in place this legislation to bring together powers, which are already available to law enforcement agencies and the security and intelligence agencies, to protect the British people and to ensure our security services have the tools to keep us safe in modern Britain.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

It was my pleasure to serve on the Bill Committee for most of its sittings. I put on the record my thanks to my right hon. Friend Sir Simon Burns for taking my place when I had to leave the Committee.

It is always with some reluctance, if not trepidation, that I raise a question on a point made by my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Grieve, not only because I am not right honourable, but because I am not learned, as I am not a lawyer. When my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General sums up, I invite him to try to address a concern that is exercising my mind, about a possible unforeseen consequence of new clause 2, namely the confliction and conflation of judicial and Executive oversight. My view is that those two things are best kept entirely separate. I fear that it may be an intended, or, as I would hope, an unintended consequence of what my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield has suggested that the two might merge in a rather unsatisfactory and possibly even anti-democratic way.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield

I certainly would not wish to see the two conflated, but—to reassure my hon. Friend—I really do not think that that is the case. The point at issue is that the commissioner has a specific power of investigation of particular things, whereas the Committee looks at the generality. It seems to me very much in the public interest that the Committee should be able to refer to the commissioner something that it thinks the commissioner might look at. All we ask of the commissioner is that he should acknowledge that and indicate to us whether he is minded to look at it. Beyond that, it is entirely a matter for him. There needs to be some formal structure, because otherwise there is the risk that that communication will not be there.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

I am grateful for my right hon. and learned Friend’s clarification. That might be the intention of the structure but I still have that reservation and look to the Solicitor General either to confirm what our right hon. and learned Friend has said or to confirm or address my suspicion.

This is probably the most important Bill that we will deal with. I support new clause 5, and think that it amplifies incredibly well the approach that Members on the Treasury Bench and the Opposition Front Bench took in Committee. The words, tone, tenor and approach of Keir Starmer are to be welcomed. I always contended that the rights and the importance of the privacy of our constituents were an unspoken golden thread running through the Bill. Through new clause 5, the Government have decided—I therefore support them in doing this—that as those rights are not always implicit they should be made explicit.

Like my hon. Friend Victoria Atkins, I will oppose new clauses 1 and 16. It seems to me utterly and totally counterproductive and counter-intuitive to give those who have been investigated, either correctly or incorrectly, notice of the fact that they have been. I take slight issue with Joanna Cherry—she will not be surprised at that. In Committee, I was never convinced that her party got the fact that we were talking about delivering security and safety for our constituents. This Bill does so. This is not an abstract theoretical debate in a law faculty; it is about providing security and safety for our citizens—the first duty of all of us.

I am pleased with the Government’s approach and the way in which they have responded. I am grateful for the tone of the Front Bench team and look forward to supporting the Bill as it progresses through the House.

Photo of Huw Merriman Huw Merriman Conservative, Bexhill and Battle

Much of the Bill as it currently stands is about drawing together many strands of existing legislation, much of which has been criticised previously for being written in an arcane and inaccessible manner, and about providing more protection of and ensuring compliance with our fundamental human rights. I therefore welcome the Bill, as it makes matters much clearer, and preserves powers and the rights that we hold so dear while protecting our constituents from more modern forms of terrorism, which we must all be so wary of and do everything we can to protect against. In assessing the oversight regime I will focus on the roles of two bodies that in my view provide sufficient oversight and checks and balances on the use of investigatory powers, in the light of the Government provisions that we are debating today.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal was set up to provide the right of redress for those who believe that they have been unlawfully subjected to investigatory powers or have had their human rights breached by a Government agency. I note that the rules and procedures of the IPT have been found lawful by the European Court of Human Rights. The IPT sits and reports in public where to do so does not compromise privacy or security. The Bill will strengthen the tribunal process and give individuals recourse to take a tribunal decision to the Court of Appeal.

With respect to the proper oversight of the investigatory powers exercised by public authorities, it must surely be a source of great strength to consolidate the existing three separate commissioners into a more powerful single oversight body headed by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner. The office of the commissioner will be supported by a number of other judicial commissioners, all of whom must hold or have held high judicial office. The judicial commissioners will be appointed by the Prime Minister, who must consult the most senior members of the judiciary in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, a point I reflected on when hearing from the SNP on whether judges would be suitably impartial in determining their powers. The fact that they must have held the highest judicial office gives me the comfort that they will.

I welcome new clause 5, which should bolster privacy while providing our public agencies with the powers they need to keep us safe. Under the new clause there will be an assumption that a warrant or authorisation should not be granted where the information could be obtained by “less intrusive means”, the Secretary of State and judicial commissioners must have regard to

“the public interest in the protection of privacy” and criminal sanctions are specified for those who abuse the powers in the Bill. Those sanctions should act as a deterrent, alongside the recourse to the tribunal should the powers be abused.

I look at the Bill very much with regard to whether it balances the needs of human rights with our need to protect our constituents. I believe it does. We should recall that the bulk of the Bill brings together numerous items of legislation that have not been as transparent as the Bill is, and have fallen foul of fundamental EU rights. In doing so, the Bill captures the work of three important reports of 2015, all of which concluded that the law in this area was unfit for purpose and needed reform, and pre-legislative scrutiny by three parliamentary Committees. Ultimately, we live in dangerous times, and it is vital to ensure that our Government agencies have the powers to protect without the ability to harm the individual liberties of law-abiding constituents. The Bill and the amendments that the Government have tabled deliver that balance.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General 7:45 pm, 6th June 2016

I am sure hon. Members on both sides will forgive me if I have to canter through all the issues that have been raised at the pace of a Derby thoroughbred and so do not name them in turn. I am grateful for the thrust of the debate, which dealt very much with the historic but continuingly important balance between the need to protect the individual’s right to privacy—a right against intrusion—and the clear national interest in making sure that the agencies responsible for the detection and prevention of crime and terrorism have the tools to do the job.

I will deal first with new clause 21, which has taken up much of the debate. In an intervention on Keir Starmer, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Security indicated that we will consider the position with regard to new clause 5 very carefully. That is indeed the case. It seems to me that we are very close indeed on the provision on privacy. There is one issue, namely the effect of the Human Rights Act. I would say that it is axiomatic that all public bodies are subject to that Act, so an amendment to make that even clearer is not necessary. However, we are going to consider the matter very carefully, and I invite further deliberation in another place. In that spirit, I invite hon. Members on all sides to support Government new clause 5. As someone who has consistently advocated action on privacy by this place, as opposed to leaving it to the courts, I am delighted to see that new clause being placed in a major piece of legislation that I hope will stand the test of time.

I shall now deal with amendments tabled on behalf of the Intelligence and Security Committee. I am grateful to its members for their careful consideration of the Bill. In an intervention on my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Grieve, the Committee Chair, I indicated the Government’s position on amendment 18. Amendment 8 relates to the underlying internal safeguards. The Government are happy to accept this amendment so that greater clarity and reassurance to Parliament and the public can be provided. Let me make it crystal clear that the remit of the investigatory powers commissioner will include oversight of the internal handling arrangements and processes that enable compliance with the Bill’s safeguards.

I have already indicated that in principle the Government accept the first part of new clause 2, which concerns the referral of issues to the investigatory powers commissioner, and we will table an amendment in the other place to give effect to that intention. As I said, however, I have rather more hesitation with regard to reporting. In agreeing the principle of reference and referral, we are already creating that line of communication that, as my right hon. and learned Friend said, was not working in one respect.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend Simon Hoare for directly outlining some of the tensions that still exist with regard to the judicial status and independence of the investigatory powers commissioner, and a role that could lead to an overlap or—dare I say it?— confusion, given how important it is to have clear lines of authority and reporting.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield

I realise that time is short. The Minister has gone a long way towards reassuring me, and I certainly do not wish to press this issue to a vote unnecessarily. However, if there is a reference mechanism, an obligation of acknowledgement and at least an indication of what is happening and a report back seem eminently reasonable—after all, the Intelligence and Security Committee exists on Parliament’s behalf to provide scrutiny. I simply do not see how it undermines any element of judicial independence whatsoever.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

I am not saying that the new clause is unreasonable; I am simply being cautious about the need for those involved—namely the commissioner—to be part of the process, and to be consulted if there is to be such a change. With regret, I cannot at this stage support that part of the new clause, but I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for the clear, careful and considered way that he and the Committee have put that point.

New clause 4 relates to clarity on criminal offences. The Minister for Security has properly said that the Government will undertake to prepare a schedule of existing criminal law, and I think he will find that whatever our arguments about the level of penalty in the Data Protection Act, every bit of potential misconduct or criminality that could be carried out under the Bill will be covered by existing criminal law. As practitioners in the field for many years, my right hon. and learned Friend and I are always anxious about the creation of unnecessary new criminal offences. My simple argument is that I am not persuaded that new clause 4 would add anything to criminal law or achieve the sort of clarity that he and others seek, and I am therefore not persuaded and able to accept the new clause.

Let me move swiftly to the amendments on judicial commissioners which were tabled by the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras. I listened carefully to the arguments, and I agree that there is real merit and value in providing expertise from the heads of the judiciary in the appointment process. I also believe that there is a role for the Lord Chancellor in these appointments. He has responsibility for ensuring that the Courts and Tribunals Service has enough judges to operate effectively. Given the limited number of High Court judges, these appointments could affect that. Involving the Lord Chancellor in making a recommendation on appointment would help to avoid any accusations of judicial patronage. On the basis that we will table an amendment in the other place to fulfil that aim, I invite the hon. and learned Gentleman to withdraw his amendments.

Let me deal quickly with the judicial appointments commission and the amendment tabled by Joanna Cherry. I am persuaded by the argument of Lord Judge who, when asked in the Bill Committee about that matter, said:

“there is no point whatever in involving the Judicial Appointments Commission”.

Why? Because judges will have been through the process themselves, and the measure is therefore completely otiose.

On the hon. and learned Lady’s other amendments, I am still not persuaded that the creation of an independent non-departmental public body—namely the investigatory powers commission—would add anything to the thrust of reforms that we are already undertaking, other than cost to the taxpayer. I therefore do not think that creating a new statutory body will add anything to the public interest, which is what we are trying to serve.

Ms Harman chairs the Joint Committee on Human Rights, on which I served in the previous Parliament. She is not currently in her place, but I wish to deal with the question of the Chinese wall. She was right to make the concession about David Anderson, who himself said there should be a relationship between the judicial authorisation function and the inspectorate. Indeed, there needs to be a distance, but creating the sort of division envisaged in the amendment would break the important link that exists to allow those who review fully to understand how the process works in practice. For that reason, the Government will seek to resist that amendment if it is pushed to a vote.

My hon. Friend Victoria Atkins clearly and eloquently set out her objections to the amendments tabled in the name of Mr Carmichael and others on notification. I cannot improve on her argument, except to say that comparisons with other jurisdictions are somewhat invidious, bearing in mind the differing natures of, for example, an inquisitorial process as opposed to the adversarial process that we use in the United Kingdom. My worry is simply that those who are continuing in their criminality will change their behaviour as a result of notification. For that reason, the Government cannot accept the amendment.

On amendment 482, I am happy to consider how to make it absolutely clear that whistleblowers can make disclosures to the IPC without fear of prosecution. I agree that that should be the case, and I will consider how to amend the Bill to bring even greater clarity to that issue. Amendments can also be tabled in the other place, which I hope the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West will take on board when considering her party’s position.

On the wider amendments to the investigatory powers tribunal, let us not forget that the Bill already represents a significant step forward. The only route of appeal available to complainants from decisions of that tribunal is currently a direct reference to the European Court of Human Rights. We are now establishing a domestic right of appeal that allows parties to seek redress in the United Kingdom, and that will also lead to greater speed. My concern is that if every decision of the IPT could be made subject to appeal, the operation of that body would grind to a halt, which I know is very much the view of its president. Currently, only 4% of claims questioning the tribunal’s work have any merit to them, so I am worried about the increasing expense and loss of efficiency that would result.

Similarly, the amendment that would force public hearings would, I am afraid, remove the tribunal’s discretion in deciding how best to operate in the public interest. It currently regularly holds public hearings and publishes copies of its judgments when appropriate.

The requirement to appoint special advocates is unnecessary—I argued that case forcefully in Committee. I can see no reason for departing from the position on declarations of incompatibility with the Human Rights Act, because only a small number of courts currently have that reservation.

I will close with this remark: privacy is now very clearly at the heart of the Bill. I am very proud of that, and Members on both sides of the House will agree that this is a job well done.

Question put and agreed to.

New clause 5 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

More than three hours having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on the programme motion, the proceedings were interrupted (Programme Order, this day).

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E).

New Clause 6