Part 6 of the Bill, on bulk powers, is perhaps one of its most controversial parts. The Scottish National party is calling for part 6 to be shelved along with part 7 until such time as an argument for their inclusion has been demonstrated by an independent review of their proportionality and operative necessity—that is to say that we believe that the powers in part 6 should be removed from the Bill until a satisfactory operational case is made for them.
The review the Government have agreed to is most welcome but they must get it right. It must be conducted properly if it is to be of any value to the process of parliamentary scrutiny or is to secure the public’s confidence in its conclusions. Yesterday we had sight of some more detail about the review, in a letter from the Minister to Keir Starmer. We were particularly pleased to note that one of the review team will be a barrister who has a great deal of experience working as a special advocate acting against the Government in terrorism cases. That degree of balance is good and is to be welcomed.
The review needs to be given the time to do a thorough job, however, and we simply do not believe that three months is long enough. Even if it were, it would not be the first time we have been promised a date by which a report will be published, only then to be given another, and another.